Rivals become teammates in Jeffco senior boys hoops all-star game

LAKEWOOD — For at least one night, Columbine boys basketball coach Clay Thielking could fist pump when Dakota Ridge guard Alex Overlie buried a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

Green Mountain's Miles Dempsey, right, gets off a shot over Arvada West's Joey Call on Monday night. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“That was a little uncomfortable for me,” Thielking said with a laugh when asked about relying on a rival player in the fourth quarter Monday night at the 2019 Jeffco High School Senior Basketball Game. “If he (Overlie) is going to score for us that is fine. He can be from anywhere.”

Overlie’s 3-pointers in the final quarter helped secure a 113-102 victory for Thielking’s Blue team at Gold Crown Field House.

“It was fun to see these guys play with each other instead of against each other,” Thielking said. “Just let the kids loose and let them show off their skills and abilities.”

One of Thielking’s own players from Columbine that won the 5A Jeffco League title this winter was named the MVP. Sharp-shooting guard Cameron Dean was given the MVP honor, but still it was a little weird for him to be cheering on some of his old rivals and suddenly becoming teammates.

Columbine senior Cameron Dean, right, plays defense on Pomona senior David Ross. Dean was named MVP of the 2019 Jeffco HS Senior Basketball Game. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“I don’t think I ever thought that would be a possibility, but here we are,” Dean said with a smile about rooting for a rival to knock down a couple of 3-pointers in the final quarter.

While the game will likely be the last big stage for most of the seniors, Dean is focused on playing at the next level. Since Columbine was bounced out of the playoffs by Cherry Creek nearly a month ago, the guard has been focused on staying sharp.

“I’m looking for a college,” Dean said. “I honestly don’t want my basketball career to be over. Wherever I need to go I’ll go.”

Chatfield senior Connor Vernon has unfortunately had a high school career plagued by injuries. Vernon suffered broken bones in his left hand just before the start of 5A Jeffco League play this season. He missed nearly two months of action before returning for the Chargers’ final three games of the season.

Vernon was selected by Chatfield coach Stephen Schimpeler to participate in the senior all-star game.

Arvada West's Joey Call, left, faces some tight defense by Jefferson's Kurvonte Rice on Monday night. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“It get back on the court with these guys who I’ve played with and against for four years was amazing,” said Vernon, who added that he felt very privileged to play in the game. “It’s fun to see how far we’ve come and grown.”

Vernon had the highlight play of the night with a coast-to-coast dunk in the third quarter.

“Coming into this game all I really wanted to do was dunk,” Vernon said with a smile. “It felt amazing.”

Wheat Ridge coach Tommy Dowd, who guided the Farmers to the 4A Jeffco League title this winter, coached the White team. Wheat Ridge’s Julian Claussen had a nice game for his coach. Chatfield’s Luke Carlson and Arvada West’s Oliver Lindblad — both replacements for players who couldn’t play — had nice games also.

Mark Rusch, Sports Program Director/Outreach for Gold Crown, said that 44 of the 47 boys and girls that played in the 2019 High School Senior Basketball Games on Monday also participated in Gold Crown’s basketball program growing up.

The 2nd annual Jeffco High School Senior Basketball Games hosted by the Gold Crown Foundation, Jeffco Public Schools and sponsored by FirstBank were played Monday night at the Gold Crown Field House in Lakewood. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)