LAKEWOOD — It’s not how your start, it’s how you finish.
That was the mantra for Green Mountain’s girls basketball team Friday night. The Rams started off slow, trailing rival Golden 23-22 at halftime. However, the second half was a totally different story as Green Mountain (16-3, 9-1) stormed to 67-46 victory to stay in the hunt for a Class 4A Jeffco League title.
“I think hitting some threes in the third (quarter) got us a little bit of a lead where we could relax a little bit,” Green Mountain coach Rudy Martin said. “I just think the strong suit of this team is we’ve got some tough kids and good mental toughness. I think we got better as the game went on.”
Freshman Delaney Bernard (22 points) sunk a trio of 3-pointers in the span of two minutes during the third quarter to get some separation from the Demons (10-9, 6-4).
“Delaney hit some really big threes at the beginning of the half that really started us and got us going,” said Green Mountain senior Kelli Van Tassel said.
Golden closed the third quarter strong with senior Jessica King scoring eight of her 13 points. The Demons actually closed to within 43-42 in the final seconds of the third period.
In danger of dropping a game at home for only the second time this season, the Rams turned it on in the fourth quarter. Offensively and defensively, the Rams were superb in the final quarter.
Green Mountain outscored Golden 22-4 in the final eight minutes. Van Tassel led the way pouring in 11 points in the quarter. She finished with a game-high 23 points, which included going 14-of-17 from the free-throw line.
“Anytime Kelli gets to the line that much she is having a good game,” Martin said. “When she plays well we are pretty good.”
Golden senior Haley Blodgett was the only Demon to score in the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-3 senior finished with a team-high 14 points, including three 3-pointers.
“We played pretty well the whole game, but that last quarter was kind of rough,” Blodgett said. “We’ve just got to stick together as a team and put it behind us.”
King (13 points) and Madison McFarlin (12 points) both had solid games for the Demons before fouling out.
Golden and Green Mountain will both get a shot next week against defending league champion D’Evelyn. The Jaguars (14-4, 9-1) had won 37 straight conference games dating back to the 2010-11 season. However, Evergreen (13-6, 8-2) upset the Jaguars 61-57 on Friday night to end D’Evelyn’s league-winning streak.
Golden hosts D’Evelyn at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 11 in the first game of a girls/boys varsity doubleheader. The Demons gave the Jaguars a tough league game Jan. 10. D’Evelyn edged Golden 34-27 in a defensive battle.
“I’m definitely leaning on that last game and how much better I can play and show (D’Evelyn) what I’m made of,” said Blodgett, who had just six points in the loss to D’Evelyn. “It’s our coaches vs. cancer event so we should bring a pretty big crowd. It will be spirited and a good event. There will be a lot of excitement and energy in our gym.”
Green Mountain gets it second chance to knock off the No. 8th-ranked team in 4A at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 on the Rams’ home court. The game Thursday at Green Mountain will likely determine the conference champion.
First, the Rams hit the road to face Evergreen at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 11.
“It’s going to be a good week,” Martin said of facing Evergreen and D’Evelyn. “We are really looking forward to it.”