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ARVADA — There should be some thank you cards or emails coming to Arvada West’s boys basketball team in the coming days.
A-West knocked off league-leading Bear Creek with a 66-41 home victory Jan. 27 to turn the race for the Class 5A Jeffco League title into a free-for-all.
“This league is so crazy. It’s the wackiest think I’ve seen in the 16 years I’ve been in the conference,” A-West coach Jeff Parriott said after his Wildcats (11-6, 6-2 in league) jumped into a tie for first with Bear Creek (10-5, 6-2) in 5A Jeffco. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Every team can beat anybody. No score is going to surprise anybody.”
The 5A Jeffco League has been unpredictable this season and is still up for grabs with six conference games remaining for all eight teams.
Besides A-West and Bear Creek still in the mix to stake claim to the league title, Columbine (5-3) along with Chatfield, Dakota Ridge and Lakewood — all sitting at 4-4 in conference play — have legit shots at getting hot over the next three weeks to take league.
“If you are within two or three games of the top spot you feel like you have a chance to win the league title,” Parriott said.
A-West increased its chances with a third straight conference victory. A huge point of the game proved to be a 9-0 run put on single-handedly by A-West senior James Pelon.
The senior guard buried a 3-pointer in the final minute of the first quarter. Pelon kept it going with two more from long range in the opening minutes of the second quarter to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 18-8.
“We had a mindset today to come out and give it our all like it was our last game,” said Pelon, who finished with a game-high 22 points. “Our focus was defense and defense brings offense. We were super solid on defense.”
Bear Creek was held to a season-low 41 points as the A-West focused on slowing down senior guards Manuel Perez and Jovan Dodig. Perez was held to five points, while Dodig did manage 20 points with his aggressive style of driving to the basket.
“I thought defensively our guys were really good tonight,” Parriott said. “(Manual Perez) is such a terrific player. I thought our guys did a heck of a job on him. I’m really proud of how my guys played tonight.”
The Bears went to full-court aggressive defense in the second half in an attempt to close the double-digit deficit. While the style led to some steals, it also lead to numerous fouls.
Four of five starters for the Bears fouled out with more than five minutes left in the game. A-West went 20-for-26 from the free-throw line in the second half to seal the victory.
Junior Josh Rogers (12 points) and senior Isaiah Brewer (11 points) joined Pelon in double-digit points.
“Life gives you adversity and tonight is that adversity,” Bear Creek coach Will Gosch said. “We got punched in the mouth and we didn’t show up. I give a lot of credit to Jeff (Parriott). I knew A-West would be a well-prepared team and we weren’t. We’ll learn from this.”
Gosch admitted that if someone told him at the beginning of the season that his Bears would be tied for the conference lead with six league games left he would take it.
According to Jeffco League records, Bear Creek hasn’t won a boys basketball league title since the 1992-93 season. The Bears claimed the 6A Jeffco League championship 25 years ago.
The Bears have their final two regular-season home games of the season this week. Bear Creek hosted Ralston Valley on Jan. 31, and faces Dakota Ridge on Friday. The Bears close with six straight road games, four conference and two non-league games.
A-West played Dakota Ridge on Jan. 31, and will host Chatfield on Friday.
“Always focus on the next game,” Pelon said when asked about what will be an interesting final three weeks to league play.
Dennis Pleuss is a communications specialist at Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com/Jeffco.
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