Ralston Valley girls hoops win-streak at 17 after victory versus Pomona

Pomona senior Abriana Ramirez is surrounded by Ralston Valley defenders Friday night. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

ARVADA — Ralston Valley girls basketball coach Jeff Gomer has been stressing the process more than the Mustangs’ current winning streak.

“I don’t care about that thing up there (scoreboard),” Gomer said after Ralston Valley extended the longest winning streak in Class 5A to 17 games Friday night at Pomona High School. “We have to keep pushing and stay sharp. The first half (tonight) we didn’t do any of the little things it’s going to take to win in three weeks.”

The Mustangs led Pomona 37-14 at halftime, but Gomer clearly wasn’t pleased with the first-half performance.

Ralston Valley senior Ashley Van Sickle (5) races up the court. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Gomer got a bunch of gray hairs tonight. We need to take it easy on him,” Ralston Valley senior Ashley Van Sickle said. “He got on us pretty hard at halftime. We reacted well. We played good as a team and like we should be.”

Ralston Valley went on a 25-0 run in the third quarter on the way to cruising to a 76-33 victory.

“We just realized we had to pick it up and do the little things right,” Ralston Valley senior Chloe Gillach said. “We needed to play as a team. That first half we were playing for ourselves too much.”

Ralston Valley’s four seniors — Van Sickle (19 points), Gillach (13), Michaela Shaklee (13) and Sarah Bevington (12) — all finished in double-digit points. Gomer took out his starters with six minutes to play.

With four conference games remaining, Ralston Valley (17-1, 10-0 in 5A Jeffco) is closing in on the league title. The Mustangs have a 2-game lead on No. 9 Lakewood and 3-game lead on Bear Creek. Ralston Valley has a clear path to the conference title having already swept the 2-game series against the Tigers and Bears.

Ralston Valley faces Chatfield and Dakota Ridge next week before an intriguing non-conference game against No. 8 Cherry Creek on Saturday, Feb. 11, on the Mustangs’ home court. The Bruins and Mustangs clashed at the Fairview Tournament in early December. Ralston Valley scored a 14-point victory in the first meeting.

Ralston Valley senior Michaela Shaklee had a dozen points in the 3rd quarter. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Like Gomer always says, we are trying to do the process to be where we need to be in the end,” Gillach said. “For the Creek game we definitely need to be ready and focused.”

Gomer added timing of the game against the Bruins is “perfect” heading into the final week before the postseason begins.

Pomona (6-13, 4-6) entered Friday’s game sitting in the middle of the pack in 5A Jeffco and 38th in the RPI standings. The Panthers must stay in the top 48 to earn a bid to the 48-team state tournament that begins Feb. 21.

“We are trying to make a run in the playoffs this year, that’s our ultimate goal,” said Pomona senior Ashley Madden, who had a team-high 18 points for the Panthers in the loss. “We are going to come out next week, get a couple of wins, and make a run.”

Madden, who signed this week to continue her basketball career at Colorado Mesa University, could make the Panthers a tough out in the playoffs. The senior guard is averaging 21 points per game. Fellow senior Julia Trujillo, who signed with Los Angles Southwest College, is averaging more than 17 points per game for the Panthers.

“It’s so sad,” Van Sickle said of playing against Madden for likely the final time. “She is an amazing player. I’m so honored to have played against her all these years.”

Madden had the same kind of admiration for Van Sickle, who will continue her basketball career at Montana State University.

“Ashley is an incredible player. Every time I get to play against her it makes me a better player,” Madden said. “We are just out her battling and having fun.”

Pomona senior Ashley Madden (2) and Ralston Valley senior Ashley Van Sickle (5) are two of the top guards in the state. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)