LITTLETON — Ralston Valley senior Caden Gigstad found his favorite spot to shoot from on the court Friday night at Chatfield High School.
Gigstad drained back-to-back 3-pointers from the same corner in the final 30 seconds of overtime to lift Ralston Valley to a dramatic 71-68 victory over Chatfield.
“The one to tie it was way harder,” Gigstad said of his 3-pointer with 28 seconds left that tied the game at 68-68. “I knew if I missed that one we would have to foul on the other end. It bounced around and fell in. I was just thankful it went in.”
After a defensive stop, Ralston Valley had the chance to end it and looked to Gigstad again. Coming off a screen on the baseline, Gigstad got the ball in the corner again and rained a 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Chatfield junior Drew Lytle.
Gigstad didn’t need a lucky bounce the second time around as the ball hit nothing but net with 2 seconds left on the clock. A last-second heave from beyond half-court was off the mark and Ralston Valley — No. 6 in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A rankings — celebrated the 3-point win.
“We haven’t been in a ton of close games this year, so having a close game and learning how to win down the stretch is always beneficial,” Ralston Valley coach Chris Braketa said of the 5A Jeffco League opening victory. “You learn some things from this.”
Ralston Valley (13-2, 1-0) learned that every conference game will be dangerous over the next month. Chatfield (6-10, 0-1) gave everything the Mustangs wanted.
It was actually the second meeting this season between the Mustangs and Chargers. The two met up in the second round of the Mountain Vista/Rock Canyon Tournament back on Dec. 6. Ralston Valley took a 12-point victory with Gigstad leading the way with a game-high 21 points.
“We’ve made a name for ourselves and everyone is going to be coming after us,” Gigstad said of the Jeffco road ahead. “We’ve got to keep playing up to our potential.”
Senior Caleb Rillos — all-state wide receiver this past football season — is having a stellar season on the hardwood. Rillos was a one-man wrecking crew against Chatfield.
“I felt like both teams were running out of steam,” said Rillos, who finished with a game-high 29 points and 17 rebounds while playing every minute. “I was just ready for it to be done.”
Rillos hit a pair of 3-pointer, but did most of his damage inside the paint. He had several offensive rebounds that led to easy baskets down low.
“I look at it that rebounds are free points,” Rillos said. “When I shoot it I always do what coaches say, ‘follow your shot’. It can turn into an easy two points.”
Ralston Valley returns home Monday with a non-league game against defending 4A Jeffco League champion Wheat Ridge. The Mustangs are back in conference play hosting Valor Christian on Wednesday, Jan. 29.
“I’m glad this game hit us early in league,” Rillos said. “It will wake us up. Our league is better than it has been in the past. We’ll work harder in practice and get better and better every day.”
Chatfield is on the road next week with conference games against Pomona (Wednesday) and Bear Creek (Saturday, Feb. 1).
“Hats off to Chatfield,” Braketa said. “They had a heck of a game plan and their kids can really shoot it.”
Chatfield juniors Ethan Goroski and Nate Jacobsen both went for 20-plus points each in the loss. Jacobsen’s 3-pointer with 1:24 left in overtime gave the Chargers a 66-65 lead. A pair of free throws by junior Ethan Johnson with 44 seconds left extended Chatfield lead to 68-65 before the heroics by Gigstad.
“It was exciting,” Jacobsen said of his 3-pointer later in overtime. “I thought it was the shot (that would win it). It was an amazing player (Gigstad) for Ralston Valley to make a couple of clutch shots. That is what you get from great players.”
Despite the tough loss, Jacobsen was encouraged how the Chargers went toe-to-toe against Ralston Valley.
“We aren’t a 6-10 team,” Jacobsen said. “We have the potential to be a lot better.”