LITTLETON — Castle View boys basketball program has its eyes set on winning the Columbine Classic Tournament.
“We are expecting to win this,” Castle View junior Chase Hettinger said after the Sabercats defeated host Columbine 66-61 Thursday night during Day 1 of the 3-day tournament at Columbine High School. “We are coming in with a positive mindset that we are going to win this.”
Hettinger led the way for Castle View (6-1 record). The 6-foot-5 forward scored a game-high 23 points. The Sabercats trailed the Rebels (1-3) 48-45 heading into the fourth quarter, but Castle View outscored Columbine 21-13 in the final eight minutes.
“It’s been fun with this group. We’ve been learning how to figure that out,” Castle View coach Patrick Simpson said of his team closing out close games in the fourth quarter. “This year we’ve had three or four games where we’ve had to win ugly and grind.”
The Sabercats went 12-for-14 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Castle View tighten up on defense after giving up 23 points to Columbine in the first quarter. The Rebels didn’t make a field goal in the fourth quarter until less than 2 minutes to play when junior Cody Ramming scored in the paint.
Simpson went with a bigger line-up after the Rebels’ front court hurt the Sabercats early. Namely 6-foot-8 junior Michael Poux played some quality minutes, which included scoring seven points in the fourth quarter while going 5-for-6 from the free-throw line.
Ramming and sophomore Luke O’Brien scored 14 points each for Columbine. Sophomore Justin Lohrenz poured in 13 points for the Rebels, but it wasn’t enough as the Sabercats ran their winning streak to 6 games.
“The result wasn’t what we wanted it to be, but we had a lot of growth tonight,” Columbine coach Clay Thielking said. “We just got to get over the hump and we will if they play with that much effort. There will be some growing pains but we’ve grown up a lot from Tuesday’s game to tonight.”
Columbine hosts Monarch at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Friday) and closes the 3-day tournament against Fountain-For Carson at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The Rebels final game before winter break is against Gateway on Monday, Dec. 18.
Thielking added that he believes his young team — dotted with several sophomores — will improve greatly by the time Class 5A Jeffco League plays begins in early January.
“That is why we play teams like this. We need to be challenged,” Thielking said of facing a talent like Hettinger. “He is a tough cover. I think that will help us once we see guys in our league.”
The Sabercats return to Columbine High School tomorrow (Friday) to face Fountain-Fort Carson for Day 2 of the Columbine Classic. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“He (Hettinger) just creates so much for us. He is so hard to guard one-on-one. What I love about him is he makes great decisions,” Simpson said of Castle View’s leading scorer. “He shoots when he needs to shoot. He kicks it to his teammates and trusts his teammates. Chase is a special player.”
Simpson said the Sabercats are focusing on firsts this season. Castle View has already had its largest come-from-behind win in the program’s history this season. They are also on the Sabercats’ longest winning streak in the program’s history.
“We’ve never won a tournament since we’ve go to 5A,” Simpson said. “That just another goal we’ve set for these kids.”