Wheat Ridge boys basketball finds its range in win versus Standley Lake

WESTMINSTER — Wheat Ridge senior Dominic Cross had a memorable night on the basketball court Monday at Standley Lake High School.

Cross dropped a career-high 27 points as the Farmers defeated the Gators 70-42.

“I don’t remember ever scoring 27 points in a game,” Cross said. “This year I’ve struggled shooting. Tonight I really wanted to get to the rim and get my rhythm going. It was a great team win. My teammates got me going feeding me the ball early.”

Cross carried a heavy load in the first half scoring 18 points by halftime. The Farmers (7-4 record) held a 27-18 lead going into the break with the senior guard doing it on both ends of the court.

Wheat Ridge senior Scotty Kingman puts in a layup during the Farmers' 26-point fourth quarter Monday against Standley Lake. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“He (Cross) can get us going. He has the energy to do it,” Wheat Ridge coach Tommy Dowd said. “He is just a smart player. He shot the ball really well and destroyed them (Standley Lake) defensively.”

Standley Lake (3-8) was still hanging around through three quarters trailing 44-33, but Wheat Ridge really got going offensively in the fourth quarter. The Farmers outscored the Gators 26-9 in the final 8 minutes to grab a third straight victory for Wheat Ridge.

The Farmers finished Class 4A Jeffco League play last week with a 5-3 conference mark, good enough for tied for fourth in the league that features three teams — Evergreen, Golden and Green Mountain — ranked in the top-12 in 4A.

“We always want to win. We want to have great momentum going into the tournament,” Cross said. “I would love to go on the road and beat some good teams, stun some people and make some noise in the tournament.”

Wheat Ridge senior Westin Miller has been making plenty of noise this season. The future Regis University baseball player is the leading scorer in 4A Jeffco. Miller is averaging 20.4 points per game.

However, it took awhile for Miller to find his shot against Standley Lake. The senior guard didn’t score in the first half.

“It did come to me a little bit,” Miller said when asked if he had any thoughts of hanging up his basketball shoes for his baseball cleats at halftime after going scoreless in the opening half. “You just have to keep shooting. I just needed to get some confidence back and keep shooting. I knew they would go in.”

Standley Lake junior Silas Von (42) goes up to block the shot of Wheat Ridge senior Kale Kissell (10) in the first half Monday night. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Miller got on track driving to the basket and getting fouled early in the third quarter. He made both free throws and then preceded to drain a trio of 3-pointers to finish with 11 points.

“Just keep shooting. You’ll never make it until you shoot the next one,” Dowd told Miller at halftime. “He is one of the best shooters we’ve ever had at Wheat Ridge.”

With the start of the high school baseball season getting pushed out until early May during this COVID-19 year, Miller can focus on the hardwood before moving onto the diamond.

“I’ve always loved playing basketball,” Miller said. “It is always a great team sport. I love playing with my teammates and my coaches. It’s always a good time.”

Wheat Ridge has three regular-season games left starting with No. 7-ranked Evergreen on Wednesday night on the Farmers’ home court. The Cougars took a 55-41 win over Wheat Ridge in their league match-up back on Feb. 8.

“We hope to move up a couple of stops and see where we are at,” Dowd said of the upcoming state tournament that begins with first-round games March 5. “It’s nice to be one of the top seeds, but we’ve been pretty good going on the road and beating somebody. I’d love to go out west (Western Slope).”

Standley Lake (3-8) was 51st in the RPI rankings to start this week. The Gators close out their regular season at Conifer on Friday night before a pair of home games next week against the 4A Jeffco League champions — Evergreen — and Alameda International.

The Gators did have nine different players score against the Farmers. Senior Louis Ortega (9 points) and junior Silas Von (8 points) led the way for the Gators.

Wheat Ridge senior Westin Miller (3) drives on Standley Lake defenders during the second half Monday. Miller, leading scorer in 4A Jeffco, was held scoreless in the first half, but rebounded with a trio of 3-pointers in the second half. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)