DENVER — The first boys basketball conference title in a dozen years in almost in the hands of the Wheat Ridge Farmers.
Wheat Ridge (17-3, 9-0 in Class 4A Jeffco League) continued plowing through league play with a 87-42 road victory Friday night against D’Evelyn.
“Three more (wins) to go and hopefully we can stick those all to win that conference title,” Wheat Ridge junior Alex Morales said of the Farmers aiming for an undefeated conference mark and first league title since 2007.
Friday night was the seventh straight victory for the Farmers — No. 9 in the current CHSAANow.com 4A boys hoops rankings. Wheat Ridge has a two-game lead over rival Golden (11-9, 7-2) with three conference games remaining for the Farmers.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround season after Wheat Ridge went 2-12 in conference play last year. The Farmers took a 35-point home loss to D’Evelyn last season and returned the favor Friday night.
“That home last year they beat us really bad,” Morales said. “We weren’t going to let that happen again.”
Morales spearheaded a 24-4 run from midway through the first quarter until early in the second quarter. The junior made three of his five 3-pointers during the run, including a half-court shot to end the first quarter with the Farmers up 28-10.
“When he (Morales) is hot we have a whole new dimension then,” Wheat Ridge coach Tommy Dowd said.
Morales finished with a game-high 15 points. Seniors Blair McVicker and Julian Claussen added 13 points apiece. Junior Dominic Bronk poured in a dozen points. The Farmers finished with 11 players scoring in the 45-point win.
It was the fifth straight road victory for Wheat Ridge.
“We’ve been on the road for so long, it really doesn’t matter,” Dowd said playing in D’Evelyn’s gym. “Our kids just play with the energy. They don’t care who you are cheering for. I thought we handled it really well. We put it on (D’Evelyn).”
The only disappointment in the win for the Farmers was a pair of technicals Claussen picked up. One came in the first half when Claussen and D’Evelyn senior Mac Brandon were tagged with technical fouls. Claussen picked up a second in the third quarter that will for him to sit out the Farmers’ home game against Evergreen on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
“It’s irritating not having our leading scorer in there,” McVicker said of having to play Tuesday without Claussen. “We have guys and next man up. I think we can come together as a team and get it done.”
Dowd added that is a hard lesson for Claussen to learn.
Wheat Ridge closes out the regular season next week with home games against Evergreen and Golden before a road game at Standley Lake on Saturday, Feb. 16.
“We know we can get the job done for the next three teams,” McVicker said. “We go win out, finish undefeated in league would be nice and league champs would be even nicer.”
The Farmers were No. 9 in the RPI ranking heading into Friday’s games. Wheat Ridge is likely looking at a first-round bye for the 48-team state tournament that begins Wednesday, Feb. 20. If Wheat Ridge grabs a top-8 seed it would host second-round and Sweet 16 games.
D’Evelyn is fighting to get to get into the big dance. The Jaguars (6-14, 3-6) were No. 44 in the RPI before the loss to Wheat Ridge. A solid strength of schedule could made the different in getting D’Evelyn into the state tournament.
The Jaguars wrap up their regular season with road games at Golden, Standley Lake and Littleton next week.