LITTLETON — Arvada West’s boys basketball team walked off the court Monday night with a collective sigh of relief at Chatfield High School.
“We needed to survive this one. This was a must win,” said A-West junior Taylor Kline, who scored all nine of the Wildcats’ points in the fourth quarter. “We are preparing for Columbine right now. We can’t celebrate this one too much.”
The Wildcats escaped the upset bid by Chatfield with a 54-51 victory. A-West (16-5, 5-1 in Class 5A Jeffco) never trailed, but the Chargers (7-14, 1-5) cut a 14-point lead down to just one point in the final minute.
A layup by Chatfield senior Christian Holmes with 50 seconds left trimmed A-West’s lead to 52-51. Kline made a pair of free throws with nine seconds left and a two-thirds court heave by Holmes at the buzzer missed its mark to allow the Wildcats to remain in the hunt for the 5A Jeffco conference title.
“We’ve told the kids for the last couple of weeks that during this time of the season even a bad win or an ugly win a really good win,” A-West coach Jeff Parriott said. “The kids made enough shots down the stretch.”
While Columbine (15-6, 6-0) is in the driver’s seat, A-West and Ralston Valley (15-5, 4-1) are still in the mix to claim the league title. A showdown between the Wildcats and Rebels at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, could decide the conference champ.
“Wednesday would have been a lot less meaningful if we would have lost tonight,” Parriott admitted. “We had to win tonight in order to get there.”
A-West had to get there without leading score Josh Rogers in the line-up. The senior guard suffered a wrist injury in a league loss against Valor Christian last Friday night. Rogers, who is averaging more than 20 points a game this season, had a brace on the wrist while cheering on his teammates from the bench Monday night.
“That a good question. That’s an unknown,” Parriott said when asked if Rogers would be back on the court this week on either Wednesday night against Columbine or the regular-season finale at home against rival Ralston Valley.
Kline finished with 15 points and senior Joseph Call had a strong game with 16 points. The Wildcats brothers — Oliver and Ethan Lindeblad — combined for 17 points.
“Our offense struggles often without Josh, but I think this time we trusted each other and got into a rhythm offensively,” Kline said. “We came out with the win and that’s all that matters.”
Parriott gave a ton of credit to Chatfield for giving A-West a tough test to start the final week of the regular season.
“We knew Arvada West is tough with or without him, but obviously it’s a big blow for them,” Holmes said of Rogers being out. “We thought we could get them and felt like we should have.”
Holmes scored the final seven points for the Chargers. Sophomore Nate Jacobson poured in a dozen points and senior Luke Carlson added 11 points. Chatfield was No. 47 in the RPI rankings starting this week, right on the bubble to make the 48-team state tournament.
Chatfield closes the regular season out at Valor on Wednesday and then hosts Columbine on Friday night.
“We are obviously fighting for our playoff lives,” Holmes said. “We’ll come out ready to play these last two games.”