LITTLETON — Columbine’s boys basketball had no interest in sharing during its run through the Class 5A Jeffco League this season.
Columbine and Arvada West finished conference play with 10-4 records last year. The Rebels and Wildcats split their two head-to-head meeting that resulted in both sharing the 5A Jeffco title in 2018.
“It feels really good and feels a bit better,” Columbine coach Clay Thielking said after the Rebels cut down the nets in celebration Wednesday night.
Columbine (16-6, 7-0 in 5A Jeffco) won the conference title outright with a win against the same team it had to split the league championship last year. The Rebels defeated A-West 59-53 to officially clinch back-to-back league titles and won’t have to share this season.
Ralston Valley (16-5, 5-1) holds second place in the conference, but Columbine’s head-to-head victory over the Mustangs gives the Rebels the tiebreaker even if Columbine loses its regular and league finale at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at rival Chatfield.
“Friday night is a big game for us, but we are going to enjoy this one tonight,” Thielking said. “This is a big accomplishment. These guys have got everyone’s best shot and they have responded. We’ve had our share of adversity. These guys have shown a lot of resilience to achieve this goal.”
While junior Luke O’Brien turned things on in the second half pouring in 14 of his team-high 18 points, it was senior Nehemiah Nua (10 points) and sophomore Treyvaughn Williams (12 points) who really sparked the second-half rally for the Rebels.
“By far,” Williams said when asked if it was his best game of the season. “I was really mentally prepared. It was a big game for us. We needed everyone to step up and be there as a team for each other.”
Williams admitted it has been a “wild and crazy” two years. He didn’t play basketball last year, but showed how his talent on the basketball court can lift the Rebels to another level.
“When he (Williams) plays his game he is scary to stop,” O’Brien said. “He is another big piece to our team.”
The Rebels were No. 10 in the RPI standings before Wednesday’s win and will likely grab a first-round bye for the 48-team state tournament that begins Wednesday, Feb. 20. Columbine should host a second-round game Saturday, Feb. 23.
“When everyone is locked in, buys in mentally and physically we are one of the top teams in the state,” Williams said. “It’s fun to be apart of.”
Columbine took a 37-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Rebels held A-West to just three points in the third quarter to retake the lead.
“We just had to pride ourselves on defense,” O’Brien said of what turned things around. “We went out there and did our things defensively.”
O’Brien finished the win in style with a pair of dunks and sealed the victory with a pair of late free throws.
A-West (16-6, 5-2) played extremely well defensive in the first half and used a trio of made 3-pointers during a span of a minute in the first quarter to take a led that the Wildcats held for most of the first half.
The Wildcats finished with eight 3-pointers on the night.
“Arvada West is a really good shooting team,” Williams said. “We tried to get out on shooters and make them go to the basket.”
Seniors Joseph Call (20 points) and Oliver Lindeblad (12 points), along with junior Josh Yago (11 points) led the way for the shorthanded Wildcats. A-West senior and leading scorer Josh Rogers missed his second straight game with a wrist injury.
Last year’s 5A Jeffco League MVP was hoping to get back on the court this week, but found out early this week that he has two broken bones in his wrist. The injury ends the season for Rogers.
“Jeff (A-West coach Jeff Parriott) is a great coach,” Thielking said. “We knew it would be a grind and it was.”
The Wildcats has showdown against their rival before the playoffs begin next week. A-West host Ralston Valley at 7 p.m. Friday night.