EVERGREEN — The road to the boys basketball Class 4A Jeffco League title is a long and winding journey.
However, Golden’s 50-36 road victory over Evergreen on Friday night definitely gave the Demons — No. 5 in the CHSAANow.com 4A boys basketball rankings — a nice start out of the gates.
“It’s Evergreen. It’s a big league rival,” Golden senior Kevin Mulligan said after scoring a team-high 14 points. “We wanted to come up here and knock them off.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Demons’ defense picked it up a notch in the second quarter. Evergreen junior Jackson Mott hit the Cougars’ lone field goal in the quarter, while Golden seniors Noah Johnson and Sam Markovich both connected on 3-pointers.
Mulligan and freshman Alan Acevedo each scored four points, including Acevedo knocking down a jumper at the buzzer to give the Demons (8-3, 2-0 in league) a 25-16 lead at halftime.
“I love Alan,” Mulligan said of the Demon freshman sensation. “He is a hustler. He can shoot or take it to the rim.”
Acevedo scored seven points off the bench and buried a 3-pointer just before the end of the third quarter to keep the momentum away from Evergreen (6-3, 1-1) heading to the field quarter.
“He (Acevedo) isn’t scared,” Golden coach Lou Vullo said. “A lot of times freshmen get scared in big games. He is going to help us down the stretch.”
McLaughlin had a dozen points as Golden’s showed off its depth. The Demons had 10 players find the scoring column. Golden defense was impressive showing the form it had before the winter break.
Vullo wasn’t too happy with the Demons’ defensive efforts against Ralston Valley and Littleton leading up to the showdown against Evergreen.
“I told them we had to get back to the physicality we had prior to the (winter) break,” Vullo said of holding the Cougars to a season-low 36 points and just 11 field goals. “I thought they brought it tonight for sure.”
Evergreen junior Griffin Lauritano scored a game-high 16 points, including eight points in the third quarter. However, when the Cougars’ leading scorer fouled out midway through the fourth quarter the hope for an Evergreen comeback were dashed.
The seven conference teams each play a 12-game league schedule that features every team getting two cracks against each conference opponent. League play began this week.
Golden has sprinted out of the gates early with victories over Littleton and Evergreen. The Demons and defending conference champion Wheat Ridge (4-4, 2-0) are the early front-runners in the league that should be one of the most interesting conference battles in 4A this winter.
“We knew this was going to be a big game for us,” Vullo said. “I also let them know we have a long way to go. We are still growing and learning. There is a lot of things we can get better at.”
Both the Cougars and Demons have non-league games next week before getting back to conference play.
Evergreen is at Holy Family on Tuesday, Jan. 14, before hosting Littleton on Wednesday in league play next week. While Golden is on the road against George Washington on Monday, Jan. 13, and returns home to face Standley Lake on Wednesday.