Wheat Ridge boys basketball wraps up OT win over Lakewood

LAKEWOOD — Wheat Ridge senior Isaiah Lucero handed out maybe his most important gift of the holiday season on the basketball court Wednesday night.

Lucero snagged a rebound under the basket, but instead of forcing up a shot with a pair of Lakewood defenders hanging on him the senior had the sense to shovel the ball to teammate Julian Claussen.

“That was an amazing pass,” said Claussen, who made the only field goal during overtime off Lucero’s assist. “I didn’t even see it coming. That was a great pass by him.”

Lakewood sophomore Michael Bennett (3) tries to get past Wheat Ridge junior Ethan Sitzman during the first half Wednesday night at Lakewood High School. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Claussen’s bucket gave the Farmers a 70-68 lead was just more than a minute to play in the first overtime period at Lakewood High School. Wheat Ridge was able to hang for a 73-69 victory thanks to a pair of free throws by Lucero and one by sophomore Dominic Cross in the final minute.

“It was perfect timing,” Lucero said of the key offensive rebound and assist. “I looked up and saw Julian.”

Lucero finished with a dozen points as Wheat Ridge (6-1 record) won its fifth straight game and reached six victories before the winter break for the first time in at least a decade.

“I thought Isaiah had a really good game. He came in there and sparked us,” Wheat Ridge coach Tommy Dowd said. “That is the nice thing about these guys. They will pass it to each other.”

Claussen led all scorers with 23 points. Senior Blair McVicker (15 points) and junior Dominic Bronk (13 points) also finished in double-digits for the Farmers.

It didn’t look good midway through the third quarter for Wheat Ridge. Lakewood (4-5) held a 51-33 lead with seniors Omar Vargas (17 points) and Pierce Holley (17 points), along with sophomore Addison Reddinger (12 points) leading the way.

Lakewood senior Pierce Holley, left, takes a jumper over Wheat Ridge senior Julian Claussen on Wednesday night at Lakewood High School. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“We went to playing defense and stopped standing around,” Dowd said of how the Farmers turned an 18-point deficit into an eventual overtime victory. “Our guys picked it up man-to-man and got up into them. Lakewood has a couple of good players and we had to make them shoot over us.”

Vargas and Holley were limited to 10 points combined in the second half.

“At halftime we talked about those two (Vargas and Holley) were just killing us,” Lucero said. “In the second half our mindset switched and we just locked them down.”

It’s the second time early this season that Wheat Ridge has fought its way to an overtime road victory against a 5A Jeffco team. The Farmers edge Pomona 80-73 in overtime two weeks ago.

Wheat Ridge is right back on the court tomorrow (Thursday). The Farmers travel to Loveland to face Class 3A’s Resurrection Christian. The Cougars are coached by former Green Mountain High School coach Bruce Dick.

“It’s big. We are going to need it going into break,” Lucero said of the importance of Thursday’s road game against Resurrection Christian. “After break we’ll go back to work.”

Lakewood has a break with not playing until after winter break. The Tigers play three straight road games to start the new year, beginning with Vista PEAK on Jan. 8.

Wheat Ridge senior Blair McVicker (2) drives past Lakewood senior Omar Vargas (0) and sophomore Michael Bennett (3) on his way to a layup in the third quarter. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)