Pomona's football state champions move from gridiron to hardwood

ARVADA — It’s been 51 days since Pomona finished the climb to the top of the prep football pedestal in Colorado and lifted the Class 5A state trophy.

Seniors Ryan Marquez (quarterback) and Riley Govan (receiver), along with junior David Ross (receiver) were key during the Panthers’ run to the school’s first state football championship since 1988.

Now, Marquez, Govan and Ross are focused on the basketball court and getting Pomona (7-8, 2-4 in 5A Jeffco League) into the mix for a conference title and berth into the 48-team 5A state tournament.

“It was great to get back to basketball. I love basketball. I love playing with my teammates,” said Marquez, a four-year varsity player on the basketball court to go along with his impressive prep resume that includes being the starting quarterback in three 5A state football title games. “It did have a little different feeling. I was more relaxed this year.”

Pomona's Riley Govan (22) had a pair of TD catches during the Panthers' state football title run. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Marquez, a three-sport (football, basketball and track) athlete, is still weighing his college options. He has had some Division II football offers along with some preferred walk-on invites from Division I football programs.

What Marquez is also focusing on is helping lead Pomona back to the playoffs on the basketball court. The Panthers haven’t qualified for the postseason since the 2011-12 season. That is the main goal for Pomona.

“The biggest goal we have it to make the state playoffs. It’s been a long time,” Pomona coach Jon Baskin said Monday night after a 55-38 home victory against Westminster. “We are more competitive at all the levels. It’s progress, but it’s really slow.”

Pomona kept Westminster (0-14, 0-3 in 5A East Metro League) winless on the season thanks to a strong third quarter. Ross poured in a dozen of his game-high 16 points during a 6-minute stretch to start the second half.

“That third quarter I started to get it going and felt more comfortable,” said Ross, who added that he tries to get in the gym to work on his shot during the football season. “Things started opening up for me.”

Pomona's Guridj Dorlean goes up for a shot Monday against Westminster. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Marquez finished with 10 points. Govan and senior Guridj Dorlean pitched in eight points each as Pomona ended a 3-game losing streak.

To start the week, the Panthers sat No. 56 in the RPI standings that determine the 48-team field for the state tournament. Pomona has to either win the league title to get an automatic bid or finish in the top 48 to get into the playoffs.

“I’d love to see a league title. That might be out of reach at this point, but I want to see a playoff game,” Marquez said referring to a 3-game league losing streak. “We have all the talent and coaching to do it. We just have to get everything in order.”

Marquez, Govan and Ross are the leading scorers for Pomona that have made some noise this winter. The Panthers ended two-time defending 5A Jeffco League champion Chatfield’s 30-game conference winning streak to open league play. Pomona also knocked off rival Ralston Valley a few weeks ago.

“My goal, much like every other coach in the league, is to win the league,” Baskin said. “It’s not like we are outclassed by teams like Chatfield. Our league has so much parody this year.”

Lakewood and Arvada West both defeated the Panthers with buzzer-beaters last week.

“A lot of these league games have been close until the end. We haven’t been lucky enough,” Ross said. “We’ve been working on finishing games and playing all four quarters.”

Pomona gets back into conference play against league-leading Bear Creek (9-4, 5-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday before getting a chance to sweep the season series against Chatfield (6-8, 3-3) at 7 p.m. Friday.

“We are not in basketball mindset at times,” Baskin admitted. “We are competitive and have a chance to win most games, but we aren’t clicking 100 percent all the time.”

Pomona senior Ryan Marquez (2) said Monday he is still weighing his football scholarship options. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)