LAKEWOOD -- Golden sophomore Ryan Blodgett could still crack a smile despite missing everything on a free throw attempt and with the game on the line Friday night.
“(Blodgett) was laughing about it coming to the bench,” said Golden boys basketball coach John Anderson about taking a timeout after Blodgett’s first of two free throws didn’t find the rim. “I felt pretty good he was going to make the next one.”
With the Demons holding a three-point lead with 3 seconds to play in the Class 4A Jeffco League showdown with Green Mountain, Blodgett sealed the win by hitting nothing but net on his second attempt from the charity stripe to give the Demons (15-3, 8-1 in league) a hard-fought 70-66 road victory.
“The game was over if I make this shot,” said Blodgett of his mindset stepping back to the line after his first arrant free throw. “I emptied my head and took the crowd out of it. I went up there and used my legs like I’m always told. I was pretty nervous.”
Blodgett had a monster game with a team-high in points (18) and rebounds (17).
“It’s every night with him,” Anderson said. “Ryan is so explosive and so fast. He is relentless after the ball.”
The sophomore’s only struggles were at the free-throw line where he finished 2-for-8, but he wasn’t alone. Golden finished the night 8-for-22 from the charity stripe, but had enough to run its winning-streak to seven games.
The important conference win over Green Mountain (10-8, 7-3) overshadowed a tough night at the line for the Demons.
“We’ve obviously got to do better than that,” Anderson said of the struggles at the line. “Also, giving up a big lead like that. Our defense got stagnant and we were just standing around. You’ve got to guard, especially when Green Mountain has weapons like that.”
Golden held what seemed to be a comfortable 15-point lead midway through the third quarter. However, Green Mountain chipped away and eventually took a 66-65 lead with a minute to play in the fourth quarter with a bucket from senior Daniel Brughelli.
Brughelli finished with a game-high 21 points.
“We started rebounding and we started playing better, plain and simple,” Green Mountain coach Derek Van Tassel said. “We didn’t play well at all in the first half and that is uncharacteristic for us. Against a team like (Golden) you have to play the whole time.”
The Demons retook the lead at 67-66 with 47 seconds left on a left-handed runner in the lane from junior Ryan Thistlewood (14 points). After a missed 3-pointer from the Rams, Golden junior Cole Greff was fouled with 17 seconds left. Greff (14 points) made both to extend the lead to 69-66.
Green Mountain sophomore Austin Fritts (11 points) launched a 3-pointer from the corner in an attempt to send the game into overtime, but his shot fell short and was rebounded by Blodgett. The made free throw by the sophomore sealed the win.
Next week is critical in determining how the 4A Jeffco League will shake out.
After facing Alameda at 4 p.m. Saturday, Golden will host conference-leading D’Evelyn (15-3, 10-0) at 7 p.m. Feb. 11. The Jaguars handled Evergreen (10-9, 6-4) on Friday night with a 70-49 victory.
It will be the third meeting between the Demons and No. 4th-ranked Jaguars.
Golden defeated D’Evelyn 77-67 in the championship game of the D’Evelyn/Golden Preview Classic before winter break. However, the Jaguars got some revenge with a 68-50 win over the Demons in their first of two league meetings.
“It’s going to be exciting in our home place,” said Blodgett of the rubber match against D’Evelyn. “Hoping for a huge crowd and the schools show up. It’s going to be a great environment to play in.”
Green Mountain has a pair of key road games next week. The Rams face Evergreen at 7 p.m. Feb. 11, before taking on D’Evelyn at 7 p.m. Feb. 13.
“They are all big. We want to play well every game,” Van Tassel said of facing two more top teams in the conference. “It’s going to be a fun week and a half.”