Ralston Valley boys basketball shows depth in win over Standley Lake

ARVADA — On the eve of Caleb Rillos signing his National Letter of Intent to play football at the United States Air Force Academy, the Ralston Valley senior did a little work on the basketball court.

Rillos — 6-foot-5 wide receiver that led the Mustangs with 57 catches for 766 yards and 12 touchdowns on the football field this past Fall — continued his domination over to the hardwood. The senior had 10 points in limited minutes as Ralston Valley easily handed Standley Lake a 78-27 defeat in the opening round of the Ralston Roundup Tournament that the Mustangs host.

Ralston Valley senior Caleb Rillos (21) elevates over Standley Lake junior Declan Adams (30) and senior Matthew Tuholski (5) for an eventual dunk on the opening night of the 12th annual Ralston Roundup Tournament on Tuesday night. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“He (Rillos) is always in the right position on offense to help us out,” said Ralston Valley senior Caden Gigstad, who led the Mustangs with 18 points. “His offensive rebounding is a huge aspect that always helps out.”

An unfortunate injury limited Rillos late in the season last winter. He suffered a broken wrist when he hit the floor after a dunk. The injury forced Rillos — three-sport athlete — to miss the entire boys lacrosse in the spring for the Mustangs.

“I just don’t hang (on the rim) anymore,” Rillos said of not being shy to use his leaping ability, but changing his dunking technique. “Last year I had five dunks on the season. Right now I already have 13 in six games.”

Ralston Valley (5-1 record) was firing on all cylinders against Standley Lake (2-3). The Mustangs led 45-8 at halftime. The Gators were held to single-digits points in each quarter except Standley Lake’s 10-point third quarter.

Standley Lake sophomore Eldar Djedovic led the Gators with 10 points.

“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Gigstad said. “We take our defense personally. We just fly around on defense.”

Ralston Valley sophomore Beau Wilson (4) drives on Standley Lake sophomore Larry Tygart (21) during the first half Tuesday night at Ralston Valley High School. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Offensively, Gigstad and Rillos was the only Mustangs to reach double-digit points. However, it looked like a summer league game at times with Ralston Valley coach Chris Braketa swapping out five players at a time about every four minutes through the final three quarters.

Ten different Mustangs scored and six players finished with 8 points or more.

“We’ve definitely have more depth then we had in the past. Guys come off the bench and intermix really well. We are still trying to figure out a lot of that,” Braketa said of working with such a deep bench and figuring out rotations. “We haven’t had a lot of practices all together with football. It’s still going to take some time. We’ll figure it out.”

Ralston Valley finished 17-7 last season and in a three-way tie for third-place in the Class 5A Jeffco League with a 6-2 conference mark . The Mustangs nearly have everyone returning from last year’s squad.

“Losing only one player (Jordan Stratch) from last year we pretty much have everyone coming back,” Gigstad said. “There is a family aspect we’ve already built and we’ve got younger players who are able to step in and play. The family aspect is what we are built on.”

Ralston Valley returns to its home court Thursday to face Mountain Range (5-2) in the semifinals of the Ralston Roundup. That tip is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

While conference play is more than a month away, Braketa is excited thinking about the competition ahead in what appears to be an improved 5A Jeffco conference this season.

“I believe Jeffco is deep than its been in the past. As soon as we get into league it’s going to be a battle,” Braketa said. “There are four of five teams that can come out and win league.”

Ralston Valley senior Caden Gigstad (2) scored a game-high 18 points in the Mustangs' 78-27 win over Standley Lake on the opening night of the Ralston Roundup Tournament. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)