LAKEWOOD — Green Mountain senior Matt Schlieper admitted he didn’t expect to take and make the game-winning shot Friday night.
“I really wasn’t expecting the ball,” Schlieper said moments after celebrating a 62-60 overtime against Wheat Ridge with Green Mountain students that stormed the court after the game-winning shot at the buzzer. “When I got it I saw the hoop and did what I naturally do. We work on that shot 1,000 times a day during practice. It was just another shot for me.”
The shot not only pushed the Rams’ winning streak to five games, but kept Green Mountain (13-4, 5-2 in Class 4A Jeffco) in the hunt for a conference title.
Golden (12-6, 6-1) now has a one-game lead over Wheat Ridge (9-7, 5-2) and Green Mountain in the race for the league title.
“We did a good job of making somebody else beat us,” Wheat Ridge coach Tommy Dowd said after the loss. “It was a good game. I think it was a fun game for people to watch to the end. Maybe the two best teams in the league if you get down to the nitty gritty.”
It was a back-and-forth game at Green Mountain High School with the Rams grabbing a 17-10 lead early in the second quarter thanks to a 12-0 run. The Farmers answered with a 11-0 run to take a 26-20 lead.
Wheat Ridge senior Alex Morales poured in a game-high 24 points. His final bucket of the night came with 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter and gave the Farmers a 54-53 lead.
“He (Morales) can take over the game for sure. He knows how to get his,” Dowd said. “We had some great efforts tonight. Dom Bronk never comes out of the game and is the Iron Man for us.”
Bronk finished with 18 points, but a missed free throw with 11 seconds and the game tied at 55-55. The senior did redeem himself with a 3-point play the hard way to open up the scoring in overtime.
However, a clutch 3-pointer by Schell with 2:43 left in overtime gave Green Mountain a 60-58 lead.
“He (Schell) is coming into his own,” Green Mountain coach Mike Puccio said. “There is a lot of great players in this league. I think he is trying to prove in that conversation.”
Wheat Ridge junior Wes Miller made a pair of free throws with 1:38 left in overtime to tie it up a 60-60. Green Mountain held possession of the ball for more than a minute and half leading up to Schell zipping a pass to Schlieper for the shot inside the paint to win it.
“Wheat Ridge is tough. Tommy (Dowd) is one of the best,” Puccio said. “Honestly, I thought we got out-toughed to be honest. We are fortunate. I think some shots dropped late. Somehow we survived.”
Green Mountain returns to action with a home game against D’Evelyn (7-11, 3-4) on Wednesday, Feb. 5. The Rams will try to avenge an overtime loss the first go-around against the Jaguars.
“This was a nice recovery from the first time around,” Puccio said of Wheat Ridge defeating the Rams by 21 points in both team’s league opener back on Jan. 8. “We need to keep moving forward.”
Wheat Ridge has a non-league game against Bear Creek on Monday, Feb. 3. The Farmers return to conference play at home against Littleton on Saturday, Feb. 8.
“This game will play dividends down the road,” Dowd said. “You get a loss right now, but you get a win later because we’ve been through this.”