LITTLETON — Monarch senior AJ Tennessen asserted himself in the fourth quarter Thursday night at Chatfield High School.
Tennessen scored 11 points in the final 8 minutes to spearhead a 33-point fourth quarter for the Coyotes (3-3 record). The scoring barrage erased a double-digit lead by the home Chargers (3-3) and gave Monarch a 73-71 victory.
“We stayed in it the whole game and never gave up,” Tennessen said. “We kept with it and kept fighting.”
Monarch had possession with the game tied at 71-71 in the final 30 seconds. The Coyotes got great ball movement to give senior Matt Chen an open lane to the basket. Chen drove to the paint and when the defense slid over, Chen shoveled a pass to a cutting Tennessen for the eventual game-winning layup.
“The plan was to drive it into the paint, either get a kick-out shot or get it down low,” Tennessen said of his layup with 6.8 seconds left. “My man helped in the middle so that left me open for the layup.”
The win ended a 3-game losing streak for Monarch and first-year coach Tim DeBerry.
“These are just sticking with it and they figured it out,” DeBerry said of the 33-point fourth quarter after the Coyotes had just 10 points in the third quarter and trailed by a much as 15 points late in the third quarter. “These kids were dying for a win and we got it.”
Monarch had to face some adversity. Starting senior guard Deuce Humphrey had to leave the game in the first quarter have suffering a bad cut on his forehead. The cut would need stitches, but Humphrey returned in the second half.
Chen finished with a game-high 17 points, including two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Junior Joey Covington had 16 points and a big 3-pointer with 1:43 left in the final quarter that put the Coyotes up 70-66.
Monarch made a living at the free-throw line. The Coyotes finished 18-for-25 from the charity stripe with Tennessen doing most of the damage going 8-for-10 from the free-throw line.
“We know were are unsized and have to use fouls. This is the first night in six games that it has hurt us,” Chatfield coach Erik Buehler said of Chatfield’s defensive struggles in the final quarter. “We have to be better on our rotations and stop guys further from the rim rather than at the rim.”
Chatfield juniors Nate Jacobson and Carter Rubin led the way for the Chargers offensively. Both had 16 points each and combined for nine 3-pointers. Sophomore Chase Miller pitched in 14 points.
“We know we can play that way and if we can string quarters together like that we can go on runs and take on just about anyone,” Buehler said of the Chargers’ 23-point third quarter where Chatfield broke out to a 53-40 lead going to the fourth quarter.
Buehler is in his first year at the helm of the Chargers’ boys basketball program. He was an assistant last year under longtime Chatfield coach Stephen Schimpeler. Buehler, who was also an assistant coach and interim head coach at Golden under John Anderson. He stepped in to the head coaching position at Chatfield when Schimpeler retired after last season.
“It is definitely different,” Buehler said taking over Chatfield’s program and his time as the interim head coach at Golden. “I took over for two legends (Schimpeler and Anderson). The kids have been great. They have bought in and that has been huge for us. It’s awesome so far.”
Chatfield is a few years removed from having some solid postseason runs. The Chargers made the 5A state quarterfinals during the 2016-17 season and 5A state semifinals during the 2015-16 season.
Chatfield is back out on the road next week. The Chargers are at Brighton on Monday, Dec. 16, before playing in the Mullen Holiday Tournament on Dec. 18, 19 and 21 at Mullen High School.
Buehler hopes to have Chatfield junior Dylan Carter back next week. The Chargers’ leading scorer — 14.2 points per game — missed the game against Monarch with an injury.
“Hopefully he (Carter) is healed up,” Buehler said of the Chargers’ leading scorer. “We have four games next week so we didn’t want to take any chances this week. Hopefully he can help us in the next four games.”