ARVADA — Chatfield’s boys basketball team has gone from the basement to the penthouse of the Class 5A Jeffco League.
A year after going winless in the conference, the Chargers (5-0, 3-0 in league) find themselves alone atop the conference after a convincing 73-54 road victory against No. 11 ranked Ralston Valley on Monday night.
“We have never been here before. I don’t know how to feel,” Chatfield senior Dylan Carter said after the win gave the Chargers a 1-game lead over the rest of the pack in 5A Jeffco. “We still have a long ways to go. We still have a lot of good teams in our league.”
The Chargers went 0-8 in conference play last year. Chatfield suffered five single-digit losses in league, including two in overtime defeats. Ralston Valley actually took an overtime win over Chatfield last season.
The Mustangs claimed the 5A Jeffco title last year with a 7-1 conference mark and entered the showdown Monday on a 4-game winning streak.
“We lost eight games by eight points or less last year. We had leads like this in other games last year and we let it slip away,” Chatfield coach Erik Buehler said. “We are finally a mature team and senior heavy. These guys know how to battle through.”
Ralston Valley (4-2, 3-1) trailed throughout, but did cut Chatfield’s lead to single-digits in the third quarter. Junior Zach Akin (11 points) and senior Blake Butvidas (10 points) helped the Mustangs make a run to start the second half.
However, Chatfield senior Carter Rubin pulled off a remarkable trifecta drawing three charging calls on three straight Ralston Valley possessions in the third quarter.
“That was such a big momentum swing,” Carter said of Rubin taking three chargers defensively in the third quarter while draining a pair of 3-pointers on the offensive end. “That got us the momentum back. That was huge.”
Rubin said he just saw Ralston Valley being more aggressive going to the basket, but felt like he could draw some charge calls.
“Coach always talks about defense,” Rubin said. “We are a pretty good skilled offensive team, but when we buy into defense it makes us that much better.”
Ralston Valley was held to just six points in the first quarter and 11 points in the final quarter.
“That was probably the best defensive effort we’ve had since I’ve been at Chatfield,” Buehler said. “We knew we had to commit to that this game especially. This was the biggest test we’ve had so far.”
Chatfield was balanced offensively with nine players scoring. Carter led the way with 19 points. Junior Chase Miller finished with 14 points. Senior Ethan Goroski and Ethan Johnson poured in 9 points each.
The Chargers made a dozen 3-pointers to keep their potent offense on the right track heading into the second half of conference play. Chatfield returns home for games against Lakewood (Wednesday) and Arvada West (Friday).
“These guys aren’t forgetting that they had a goose egg last year in league,” Buehler said. “They have played against these guys in Jeffco all their lives. They want to end it the right way.”
Ralston Valley hits the road for a pair of conference games against Columbine (Wednesday) and Bear Creek (Friday) before a non-league game at home against Windsor on Saturday this week.