LAKEWOOD — Arvada West’s boys basketball coach Jeff Parriott wished the Wildcats’ 53-41 win over Lakewood on Friday night would have counted as a nice opening conference victory.
“I’d rather this be a league game. If we are going to play them, let’s count it,” Parriott said after the dozen-point victory. “It is what it is. The next one counts (in league standings) so we have to hit the rest button and ready to go next time.”
A-West and Columbine were Class 5A Jeffco League co-champs last year with identical 10-4 conference records. The league looks different with Valor Christian moving up to 5A Jeffco for 4A Jeffco in the mix this season.
It will also feel different with the conference going to just an 8-game league schedule after having home-and-away games between all eight teams last season.
“It’s definitely a different schedule this year,” A-West senior Josh Rogers said. “It would have been nice to get the league win, but we get them at home next time. We’ll have good energy for that one.”
A-West (5-1 record) is scheduled to host Lakewood on Jan. 23 in what will count as a conference game.
The key to the Wildcats’ win the first time around against Lakewood was a strong defensive effort, especially in the fourth quarter. A-West held a 43-36 lead going into the final quarter.
After allowing seniors Omar Vargas and Pierce Holley to combine for six 3-pointers in the first three quarters, the Wildcats made sure to closeout better on Lakewood’s shooters.
“We played with higher hands late,” Parriott said of his Wildcats holding the Tigers to just five points in the final quarter. “We gave them some looks early. We were in the right position, but the guys made that adjustment taking the easy shot away. A challenged shot and an unchallenged shot the percentages are quite a bit different.”
Vargas (14 points) and Holley (13 points) were the only Tigers to get double-digit points.
“Arvada West is such a great defensive team. Jeff Parriott’s teams do the right things defensively. I thought we helped them out as well,” Lakewood coach Daryl Johnson said. “I’m happy with where we are at, but Arvada West is on a different level right now.”
Lakewood (4-3) held a 14-6 lead late in the first quarter, but A-West had an 8-0 run to tie things up and took its first lead midway through the second quarter. The Wildcats would never give up the lead.
Rogers — last year’s 5A Jeffco League MVP — came in averaging 23.8 points per game. He was held to just 12 points, but the combo of seniors Oliver Lindeblad, Joseph Call, along with juniors Taylor Kline and Josh Yago combined for 36 points.
“I think the confident those other guys play with are going to be huge for us,” Parriott said. “Teams know Josh (Rogers) can shoot and score. We’ve got to play without his high volume of shots some nights.”
Kline hurt the Tigers from the outside with four 3-pointers. Lindeblad had a quiet first half, but poured in five key points in the fourth quarter to help the Wildcats seal the victory.
“Seven deep can go make big plays,” Rogers said of the Wildcats’ depth this season. “I think that is what makes this team special from some of the others in the past.”
The Wildcats stay on the road facing Fossil Ridge in Fort Collins on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Lakewood plays at Arapahoe next Tuesday before hosting 4A Jeffco’s Wheat Ridge on Wednesday, Dec. 19, heading into the winter break.
“Get your popcorn ready. Tommy Dowd is coming to Lakewood,” Johnson said about the Tigers facing an old rival coached by longtime coach Tommy Dowd. “Wheat Ridge is going to be awesome.”