LAKEWOOD — It doesn’t matter how girls basketball teams capture conference wins in the Class 5A Jeffco League.
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The key is getting those wins no matter how it looks. Arvada West edged Lakewood in both teams’ league opener Jan. 21. The Wildcats didn’t score in the opening four minutes of the third or fourth quarters, but managed to take a 42-38 road victory.
“I told the girls it was going to be a barnburner and it didn’t disappoint,” A-West coach Brady Meeks said. “We kind of thought the first team to 40 points would win. Chris (Lakewood coach Chris Poisson) and I joked before the game the final might be 36-35. So we were pretty close.”
It looked like A-West (12-3, 1-0 in 5A Jeffco) would be saying goodbye to its 6-game winning streak. Lakewood (8-5, 0-1) held a 29-20 lead midway through the third quarter. The Wildcats clawed back thanks to Jasmyn Williams, Saylor Swanson and Brooke Meeks each sinking a 3-pointer over the span of 90 seconds late in the third quarter.
A steal and layup by Swanson in the closing seconds actually gave A-West a 33-31 lead heading into the final quarter.
“I’m really proud of their grit and fight,” Coach Meeks said of the Wildcats climbing out of the 9-point deficit midway through the third quarter. “In previous seasons this team would have folded. Credit to the kids. They were fantastic.”
The coach’s daughter — Brooke Meeks — finished with a team-high 11 points. Williams finished with 9 points and Swanson, a freshman, came off the bench with 7 points.
“Shots started to fall for a couple of us,” Brooke said. “It was nice to hit a few shots. We had to stay positive.”
It seemed like there was a lid on both baskets in the fourth quarter. Both teams nearly went scoreless halfway through the final quarter. Brooke actually make the only two field goals in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats.
The junior guard poured in her third 3-pointer of the night to put A-West up 36-33, but Lakewood junior Zoe Zartman answered with a 3-pointer of her own to ties things back up. Lakewood freshman DJ Parrish led all scorers with 13 points. Senior Anna Salmore had 11 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Brooke had another big field goal to give the lead back to the Wildcats. A-West made 4-of-7 free throws in the final minute to seal the victory. Senior Amanda Neff struggled offensively for most of the game, but was 3-for-4 in from the line in the final minute.
“Amanda and Ellie (Pugliese) hit some big free throws late,” Coach Meeks said. “She (Neff) was a little off tonight, but I wasn’t going to pull her out. She is a captain and important in so many ways. And, she is an 80 percent free-throw shooter. That is who I want on the line.”
Lakewood was playing shorthanded for the majority of the game when senior point guard Logan Watson suffered an ankle injury and wasn’t able to return.
“It hurt us a lot,” Lakewood coach Chris Poisson said of Watson suffering the ankle injury early in the second quarter. “Logan is our engine. Without her we are all playing different roles.”
Poisson hopes to have Watson back soon, but admitted she will likely miss a few games next week.
“Injuries you can’t control. You just deal with them,” Poisson said. “Adversity is opportunity in disguise. Can we become better players and a better team? Then Logan comes back and we’ll be even better. That is how we’ll look at it.”
Coach Meeks gave a lot of credit to Poisson after the game.
“Chris is the best coach I’ve ever gone against. That’s not disrespect to a lot of great coaches,” Coach Meeks said of Poisson, who has built Lakewood into a perennial top-10 program in 5A over the last decade.
A-West now prepares for its biggest rival — Ralston Valley (9-4, 0-0). The Wildcats host the Mustangs in a boys/girls varsity doubleheader on Wednesday, Jan. 26, with the boys tipping off at 5:30 p.m. and the girls game to follow.
“RV is a very big rival for us,” Brooke said. “We have always been the underdog against them. This year we are just going to go out and play our game. Hopefully we can come out with a win or at least say we tried our hardest.”
Ralston Valley had a big non-league test Jan. 22 against one of the top teams in 4A. The Mustangs traveled to Mullen. Ralston Valley lost 49-38.
“Everyone kind of knows it’s Valor’s league to lose,” Coach Meeks said. “I think the rest of us are kind of clawing at each other. Ralston Valley is extremely talented. Jeff Gomer (Ralston Valley coach) does a great job. It’s going to be tough for us. We have to play better than we did tonight.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
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