No. 8 Golden boys hoops keeps one-step ahead of 4A Jeffco foes

GOLDEN — It’s simple math for Golden’s boys basketball team when it comes to winning the Class 4A Jeffco League title.

The Demons — No. 8 in the 4A boys basketball rankings — can reclaim the conference crown with wins over No. 10 Green Mountain, D’Evelyn and Wheat Ridge over the next two weeks.

“We keep talking about that we can only control what we can control,” Golden’s second-year coach Lou Vullo said after the Demons’ 59-53 home win Saturday afternoon against Evergreen. “We know if we win the next three games we would be in position to win the league. We don’t want to worry about anyone else helping us. We just want to win them all and win it (league title).”

Evergreen senior Cameron Morlan, right, elevates toward the rim as Golden freshman Alex Acevedo goes for the block during the first half Saturday at Golden High School. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Golden (14-6, 8-1 in 4A Jeffco) is 1-game ahead of rival and defending league champion Wheat Ridge (10-7, 6-2) in the standings. The Demons are trying to reclaim the league title it last won during the 2017-18 season.

Evergreen (11-7, 4-5) has morphed into a spoilers role. The Cougars can’t win the league title, but still has game ahead against Wheat Ridge and Green Mountain. Evergreen did give the Demons a challenge in the late afternoon game Saturday.

“Jeff does a great job. He is a very good coach,” Vullo said of Evergreen’s second-year coach Jeff Dolan. “I knew going into this game it was going to be very tough.”

What made things a little easier was the early 3-point shooting by Golden senior Kevin Mulligan. The senior guard drained three 3-pointers in the span of 80 seconds to get the offense going for the Demons.

“I’ve just been practicing a lot after practice,” Mulligan said of his 3-point shot. “I finally hit some 3s. I’m really not a 3-point shooter, but they finally came. I was just letting them go.”

Mulligan didn’t hit a 3-pointer after the first quarter, but finished with a game-high 21 points.

“We tell him (Mulligan) has had to take more shots,” Vullo said. “He tries to facilitate and get to the basket, but he has a really nice 3-point shot and needs to take that more often.”

Evergreen junior Griffin Lauritano (1) takes a jumper over Golden senior Ben McLaughlin (2) on Saturday afternoon. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

What the Demons did shoot plenty of in the final quarter to seal the victory was free throws. Golden was 8-for-10 from the charity stripe in the final quarter to hold off the Cougars.

“We normally do a drill in practice that gets us really tired and then we shoot free throws,” Mulligan said. “It’s good we it them.”

Golden’s last field goal came from senior Jack Anderson with 1:38 remaining in the fourth quarter. Anderson was able to lose an Evergreen defender in the paint and put up a scoop shot to put the Demons up 54-50.

“He (Anderson) is just kind of a squirmy little guy,” Mulligan said of his fellow senior. “He gets in there. Teams forget about him and he shoots it.”

Evergreen junior Aaron Browne had a 3-point shot with under 20 seconds to play that could have tied the game. However the shot was off the mark. Golden made 3-of-4 free throws in the final seconds to extend the winning margin to six points.

Evergreen juniors Jackson Mott (14 points), Griffin Lauritano (12 points) and Jared Stiller (11 points) carried the Cougars offensively.

Freshman Alan Acevedo had another strong game off the bench for the Demons with 12 points. Senior Ben McLaughlin poured in all of his 8 points in the third quarter.

Golden hosts Green Mountain (14-5, 6-3) at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12. The Rams handed the Demons their lone conference loss back on Jan. 18. Evergreen has a non-league home game against Pomona at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Golden senior Jack Anderson drives baseline on Evergreen senior Cooper Dyess during the Class 4A Jeffco League game Saturday afternoon. The Demons stayed 1-game ahead of rival Wheat Ridge in the conference standings. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)