LITTLETON — Douglas County overcame double-digit deficits twice on opening night of the preps boys basketball Wednesday.
“I think the difference between this year and the teams I’ve had in the past is these guys, not matter what’s going on, are confident,” Douglas County coach Earl Boykins said after a 67-62 victory over Chatfield on the Chargers’ home court. “Tonight was a perfect example.”
Chatfield jumped out to a 10-0 lead early before eight 3-pointers in the first half gave the Huskies a 33-30 halftime lead. Even more impressive was Douglas County’s rally in the fourth quarter.
“Everything that could go wrong that last four minutes went wrong, but this is our team right now,” Chatfield coach Stephen Schimpeler said after the loss. “We’ve known this was coming. I think it’s a wake-up call for us.”
Chatfield freshman Ethan Gorowski buried a 3-pointer with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter to give the Chargers a 60-49 lead. However, it would be the last field goal of the night for Chatfield.
Douglas County went on an 18-0 run that was finally ended when Chatfield senior Isaiah Reed hit a pair of free throws with 9 seconds left to make the final score a 5-point victory for the Huskies.
“We were struggling with rebounding and that brought (Douglas County) back into it,” said Reed, who led the Chargers with 16 points. “Whenever we messed up, we kept on messing up. It happens.”
Douglas County junior Brendan Temple had a game-high 20 points, including four 3-pointers.
“Brendan played great tonight,” Coach Boykins said.
Junior TJ Boykins, the coach’s son, struggled with his shot through three quarters. However, the junior guard poured in all seven of his points in the fourth quarter to put the Huskies over the top.
Douglas County lost by 30 points to Chatfield last year in both teams’ opener. The Huskies weren’t able to climb out of a 19-2 early deficit like it did Wednesday night.
Douglas County hopes to take a step up when it begins conference play in the deep and talented Class 5A Continental League. The Huskies went 1-9 in league play last season. Douglas County has its home opener at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, against Coronado.
It is a new-look Chatfield team with the graduation of six seniors, including the Chargers’ top four scorers from last season. It didn’t help matter that senior Keland Rumsey didn’t play due to an injury he suffered on the football field in the Chargers’ state quarterfinal loss in the 4A playoffs a little over a week ago.
Senior Liam Mann, Chatfield leading returning scorer, fouled out having scored 10 points late in the third quarter against Douglas County. Junior Connor Vernon also went down with an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter after scoring nine points.
“We need all our guys to be healthy. I’ll be praying for Connor. Hopefully it isn’t that bad,” Reed said. “We need Liam. He is a big man. He is a beast. We’ve got to feed him when we can.”
Schimpeler has Chatfield on a remarkable run in the 5A Jeffco League. The Chargers have a 30-game conference winning streak, including back-to-back undefeated 14-0 league marks the past two seasons.
“We talk about it,” Reed said of the Chargers’ conference winning streak. “It’s a goal for us to keep it going. All we can do is do our best. I think it’s possible. It’s not going to be easy.”
Chatfield’s last league loss was against Arvada West on Feb. 13, 2015. The Chargers have plenty of non-league games before getting in to their league schedule after the winter break. Chatfield opens conference play at Pomona on Jan. 4.
“We are shorthanded right now. It is what it is,” Schimpeler said. “We were in a situation to win the game. This is good for us, as much as it stings.”
The Chargers stay at home for their next game. Chatfield hosts Boulder at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1.