Columbine boys basketball stays hot in 5A Jeffco with win over Bear Creek

LITTLETON — Solo possession atop the boys basketball Class 5A Jeffco League will be on the line when Arvada West travels to Columbine High School for a 7 p.m. tip Friday, Feb. 9.

A-West’s 70-51 home victory over Lakewood, along with Columbine’s 67-61 win against Bear Creek on Wednesday night left the Wildcats (13-7, 8-3) and Rebels (11-9, 8-3) in a share of the conference lead with three games left in league play.

“It’s going to be great. We are going to go out there and play the best we can,” said Columbine sophomore Luke O’Brien, who scored a game-high 25 points against Bear Creek. “Arvada West is a really good team. We are going to go out there and win, hopefully.”

Columbine sophomore Luke O'Brien went for a game-high 25 points. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

After a slow start in non-league play, the Rebels are one of the hottest teams in 5A Jeffco. Columbine has won 7-of-8 games dating back to its dramatic overtime victory against Bear Creek.

“You always hope you are in the conversation late in the season,” Columbine coach Clay Thielking said of being in the mix for a league title. “We are just focused on getting better everyday.”

While Wednesday’s win over the Bears (11-7, 7-4) wasn’t as thrilling as the first time around, it was just as effective. For the first time all league season Bear Creek has now slipped out of the top spot in the conference standings. The Bears are now tied with Chatfield (11-9, 7-4) a game behind A-West and Columbine.

“Bear Creek wanted to come in and beat us tonight,” O’Brien said. “We weren’t going to let that happen.”

Neither Bear Creek or Columbine held a double-digit lead the entire game. However, Columbine went on a 10-2 run in a minute span late in the fourth quarter to take control.

O’Brien scored 13 points in the final quarter as Bear Creek suffered its second league loss in three games.

Columbine's Justin Lohrenz, left, battles inside with Bear Creek's Manuel Perez. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“We’ve got a lot of room for improvement,” Thielking admitted. “I didn’t think we played particular well tonight. I’ve got to give Bear Creek a lot of credit for that. We just made enough plays to extend the lead late.”

Bear Creek was led by junior Grant Karger who made six 3-pointers on his way to 20 points. Seniors Jordan Ramos (17 points) and Jovan Dodig (12 points) both had strong nights, but both fouled out with under 2 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

The game plan on Bear Creek’s leading scorer Manuel Perez was allow Columbine junior Logan DeArment to match-up with Perez. The strategy worked as Perez scored just 4 points, all in the final quarter.

Columbine’s utilized its size advantage with junior Cody Ramming (11 points) and sophomore Justin Lohrenz (10 points) controlling the boards on both ends of the court.

“We match-up well with anybody,” Ramming said. “Justin (Lohrenz) boxes out everybody. It makes it easy for me. He does the dirty work.”

The work ahead for the Rebels is pretty simple. Columbine controls its own destiny when it comes to winning league. After the meeting with A-West on Friday, the Rebels host Ralston Valley and Chatfield next week to close the regular season.

“We would like to think our home court is an advantage for us. Anything can happen on any given night,” Thielking said of the wild 5A Jeffco this year. “Our guys just have to stay focused and keep working hard.”

Arvada West, Columbine, Bear Creek and Chatfield all have legitimate shots of winning the 5A Jeffco League title. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)