CONIFER — Skyview got the jolt of energy it needed Tuesday night in a big boys basketball road game at Conifer.
The Wolverines fell behind 13-4 midway through the first quarter. Skyview coach Paul Barringer took a timeout to gather his team facing the early deficit.
“We really didn’t know what hit us,” Barringer said of his Wolverines falling behind by nine points early. “Nobody panicked.”
Skyview brought more energy to the court in the second quarter, which included a 10-0 run that put the Wolverines up 18-14 midway through the second quarter. Junior Deyvon Butler was big scoring 10 of his game-high 19 points in the second quarter.
The Wolverines pushed their lead to double-digits in the second half and hung on late for a 57-54 victory to stay undefeated in the Class 4A/3A Colorado 7 League play.
“This was a really big game,” said Butler, who added that the energy Skyview brought to the court after the slow start was the key to the win. “We fought together and came through.”
Conifer and Skyview came into Tuesday’s game as two of the hottest teams in the Colorado 7. The Lobos were on a three-game winning streak while the Wolverines had won four straight games.
Skyview (14-6, 8-0 in league) has the best record in the conference and already had a head-to-head win over Conifer (8-11, 4-4). The Wolverines defeated the Lobos 52-41 on Jan. 20. However, that was with senior post player Diego Mireles on the court. An injury kept Mireles out of the line-up for the rematch.
“The first time we played them we just pounded it inside,” Barringer said. “We didn’t have that luxury this time.”
Butler was big inside on the boards and had a key 3-point play late in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines also made four 3-pointers in the second half and was a solid 8-for-10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Conifer poured in 25 points in the fourth quarter to mount a comeback attempt. Senior Kellen Ireland hit a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left that cut Skyview’s lead to 53-51, but the Lobos would get no closer. Junior Mark Studer sank a 3-pointer for Conifer with under a second to play to make the final score 57-54.
“I’m proud of the effort and the comeback, it was just too little too late,” Conifer coach Eric Valerio said.
Skyview now has a 2-game lead over Fort Morgan in the league standings with three games left. Butler said Skyview wanted to silence the doubters who didn’t think the Wolverines could win a conference title.
“We didn’t shoot well from 3 in the second quarter. I think we were 3-for-4 in the first quarter and then missed our next six,” Valerio said. “When you only score four points in a quarter it’s tough to beat a well-coached team.”
The Wolverines were 34th in the updated RPI standings heading into Tuesday’s game and Conifer was in the 28th spot.
The top 48 teams in the RPI standings at the end of the regular season will fill the 48-team bracket where the top 16 seeds receive a first-round bye. First-round games are schedule for Wednesday, Feb. 22.
What has helped the Lobos in the RPI rankings is a tough non-league schedule. Conifer has played seven teams that are in the current CHSAANow.com 4A boys basketball poll or just on the outside of the top-10.
Conifer made sure to schedule a lot of non-league games against teams in the deep 4A Jeffco League. The Lobos faced 4A Jeffco’s Golden, Wheat Ridge, D’Evelyn, Littleton and Evergreen in five straight games before winter break.
Valerio said there has been some positive and negative things about playing in the new conference.
“I think it’s been good,” Valerio said playing in the Colorado 7. “It’s been a little of an adjustment getting to know the styles, but I think it’s a good fit for us. Travel is tough. The guys are excited to have an opportunity every night to compete.”
Conifer hosts Fort Lupton at 7 p.m. Friday. The Lobos are in good shape to make the 4A state tournament field for the first time since the 2009-10 season, but Valerio said he wouldn’t be satisfied by a postseason berth.
“For me it’s not just about making the state tournament,” Valerio said. “We want to be able to play good basketball in the state tournament and not just get bounced out.”