GOLDEN — Golden boys basketball coach John Anderson knows at least one thing about his team early on this season -- the Demons don’t fear deficits.
Golden rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the third quarter to Elizabeth on Friday night at Golden High School. The Demons dominated the second half to pull away with an eventual 80-70 victory in the semifinal of the D’Evelyn/Golden Preview Classic.
“We played well together in the second half and rebounded well,” said Golden junior Cole Greff, who led the Demons with 21 points. “I think the biggest thing we did was control our turnovers and we controlled the pace.”
Golden’s 27-point fourth quarter propelled the Demons (2-0) into the championship game against Class 4A Jeffco rival D’Evelyn (2-0). The Jaguars handled Pueblo Central 74-63 in the other semifinal that was played Friday night at D’Evelyn.
The tournament title game -- 7 p.m. Saturday at Golden High School -- will be the first of three scheduled meetings between Golden and D’Evelyn on the hardwood this season. The two league foes will meet twice in conference games in January and February. Anderson doesn’t mind facing the D’Evelyn in a non-league game during the first week of the season.
“I don’t know if playing D’Evelyn three times is great, but I want to beat them. It’s been awhile,” Anderson said. “It’s a good early season test against one of the better teams in the state.”
D’Evelyn was ranked sixth in the 4A CHSAANow.com preseason poll that was released Monday.
Friday, the Demons were able to overcome a great night from Elizabeth junior Jake Gavitt, who finished with a game-high 29 points. Gavitt was one of four Cardinals in double-digits scoring. He was also a perfect 14-for-14 from the free-throw line.
“(Gavitt) just knows how to score,” Anderson said. “Our goal was to make him shoot over our bigs. If he gets to the rim he is pretty tough.”
Golden’s defense stiffed in the fourth quarter, limiting Elizabeth to just four field goals. Gavitt hit a 3-pointer with 2:37 left in the fourth quarter to cut the Demons’ lead to 72-70, it was the Cardinals final points as Golden finished the game with a 8-0 run in the final minute.
Seniors James Christiansen (14 points), Ryan White (12 points) and junior Aaron Stone (11 points) were the other big scorers for the Cardinals. However, Golden bench outscored Elizabeth’s reserves 13-0.
Golden junior Ryan Thistlewood, a transfer from Ralston Valley, hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points after not scoring in the first half. The junior’s 3-pointer with 5:39 tied the game at 63.
“I like shooting 3s. That’s pretty much what I do,” Thistlewood said. “I just had to stay focused and find my shot.”
Golden hit eight 3-pointers on the night. Sophomore Cole Harris hit a pair in the first quarter. Junior Jesse Capul added one in the second quarter, but the biggest probably came from junior Phil Katzman. The 3-pointer from Katzman with 2:50 left in the game extended Golden’s lead to 72-67.
“We didn’t know how good of an outside shooting team we would be,” Anderson said. “We’ve hit some pretty big 3s the last couple of nights.”
The Demons’ frontcourt tandem of Greff and sophomore Ryan Blodgett combined for 40 points. The 6-foot-5 Blodgett scored eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter while playing with four fouls the majority of the final quarter.
Elizabeth led nearly the entire game leading up to the fourth quarter.
“(Golden) made some good adjustments in the second half and we couldn’t adjust back to it,” Elizabeth coach Mike Boss said. “Offensively we are fine. Defensively we’ve just got to get better.”
The Cardinals will face Pueblo Central in the third-place game scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at D’Evelyn.