LAKEWOOD — Golden senior Ryan Thistlewood was a thorn in the side of Green Mountain early and often Tuesday night.
Thistlewood scored 16 points in the opening eight minutes to energize the Demons, ranked No. 2 in the CHSAANow.com Class 4A boys basketball poll, to a 69-35 road victory.
“I knew today during warm ups I was shooting really well,” said Thistlewood who was 4-for-5 from 3-point range. “Those steals, we just wanted to convert those today and I was able to do that.”
The 6-foot-2 guard finished with a solid statistic line: 24 points, eight steals, seven assists and three rebounds.
Green Mountain (6-9 overall, 3-4 in 4A Jeffco) actually took an early 6-0 lead on 3-pointers by senior Rob Godshall and junior Austin Fritts.
“Once Green Mountain scored those first six points we knew we had to zone in,” Thistlewood said.
Fritts buried a 3-pointer to tie the game at 9-9 with 4:15 left in the first quarter, but he was slapped with a technical foul after arguing that he was fouled on the 3-pointer. Thistlewood made both free throws following the technical foul which started a 27-0 run by Golden (13-2, 7-0).
The Demons’ defense held Green Mountain to a single point from midway through the first quarter until Fritts hit a 3-pointer with 6:43 left in the third quarter to make the score 41-13. Golden had 13 steals in the first half while Green Mountain put up just a dozen shot attempts against the Demons’ half-court 1-3-1 pressure zone defense.
“(Thistlewood) up on top of the zone was getting deflections,” Golden coach John Anderson said. “He is an animal up there. He was huge.”
Golden needed some players to step up being shorthanded on the night. Junior Ryan Blodgett (10.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game) didn’t play because of a sprained ankle he suffered in a win last Friday against Wheat Ridge. Senior Cole Greff (10.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game) banged heads with Green Mountain junior Alec Stowell on the opening tip. Greff suffered a cut above his eye and didn’t return.
“We lose Cole Greff and we are without probably two all-state players, but it’s the same old theme. Our bench always comes in plays hard and knows what their job is,” Anderson said. “They responded without our two big guys (Greff and Blodgett).”
Junior Nick Capaul and sophomore Kayden Sund scored 12 points each, along with controlling the paint on both ends of the court.
“I definitely forced me and Nick Capaul to put some emphasis on rebounding tonight,” Sund said. “Coach (Anderson) had wanted us to play like Dennis Rodman this week. Really get after every board and every loose ball.”
Capaul and Sund also showed some range from the outside. Capaul canned four 3-pointers while Sund added one from long range. Senior Phil Katzman contributed eight points off the bench for the Demons as they ran their winning streak to seven.
“Our whole goal and talk this week is hunger,” Anderson said. “Play with hunger. You have to do that every single night.”
Golden continues its conference schedule Thursday at Arvada. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. against the Bulldogs. The Demons host No. 7 Valor Christian (10-4, 6-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday in a game that could decide the conference champion.
“We’ve just got to keep playing the aggressive defense we’ve been playing,” said Sund of how Golden would keep its winning streak going.
The Demons rallied in the fourth quarter Jan. 10 to take a 46-44 victory from Valor on the Eagles’ home court the first time around. It was the first win over Valor on the basketball court for Golden.
Green Mountain heads to the foothills for its next league game. The Rams face Conifer at 7 p.m. Thursday. Fritts finished with a team-high 22 points for Green Mountain against Golden, but 16 of those points came in the second half after the Demons had the game well in hand.