Golden’s seven-game streak snapped

Posted 1/11/17

GOLDEN — Valor Christian’s boys basketball coach Troy Pachner called it a “revenge tour.”

Losses to Golden and D’Evelyn cost Valor at least a share of the Class 4A Jeffco League title last season. A 68-53 victory Jan. 7 over Golden, who …

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Golden’s seven-game streak snapped

Posted

GOLDEN — Valor Christian’s boys basketball coach Troy Pachner called it a “revenge tour.”

Losses to Golden and D’Evelyn cost Valor at least a share of the Class 4A Jeffco League title last season. A 68-53 victory Jan. 7 over Golden, who came in ranked No. 3 in the CHSAANow.com 4A boys hoops poll, gave No. 4 Valor (8-3, 2-0 in league) an early inside track to dethroning the two-time defending conference champion Demons (9-2, 1-1).

“These are the two games we lost in league,” Pachner said of Golden and D’Evelyn. “We are pretty committed not to let that happen again. We had to get this win here.”

Valor’s full-court defensive pressure helped limit Golden to just 18 points in the first half.

“We knew the press was coming. We practiced against it for a long time,” Golden coach John Anderson said. “We have to be aggressive against it. We were kind of passive and not attacking.”

The Eagles led by double-digits for most of the second half. The Demons did cut Valor’s lead to nine points midway through the fourth quarter, but Valor made 13-of-15 free throws in the final quarter to seal the victory.

“That’s why we play them twice. We can beat them the second time,” said Golden junior Adam Thistlewood, who led the Demons with 23 points in the loss. “We’ve got to settle down, focus and super grind these next couple of weeks.”

Saturday night featured two of the most dynamic duos in 4A. Valor seniors Jalen Sanders and Kayle Knuckles came in combining for nearly 40 points and 15 re-bounds per game. Golden senior Kayden Sund and Thistlewood came in averaging nearly 35 points and a dozen rebounds per game.

Sanders (25 points) and Knuckles (21 points) won the first go-around.

“I told our guys that we can’t guard him (Sanders) with one guy, but he is good enough and long enough to find open people at the rim,” said Anderson, who saw his team’s seven-game winning streak come to and end.

One of the only errors the Eagles’ tandem had was a missed dunk by Knuckles in the closing minutes of the game. Sanders said — with a smile — that he would give some grief to Knuckles for missing a dunk.

“That’s got to be the best one-two punch is the state, I think,” Pachner said of Sanders and Knuckles. “There are some great combos out there, but they are as good as anybody. I love how they share in the paint. It’s pretty special.”

Pachner was also happy with performance of his supporting staff. Seniors Karsten Michael (eight points) and Keisan Crosby (seven points) helped fill the void of the Eagles not having senior Dylan McCaffrey.

McCaffrey played football on Saturday in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

Foul trouble kept Golden junior Joe Madsen on the bench for a good part of the game. Madsen was having a strong game in the middle for the Demons, but he picked up a second foul with 4:40 left in the first quarter. Madsen was tagged with his fourth foul early in the third quarter and eventually fouled out late in the fourth quarter with 10 points.

Golden and Valor split their two meetings last season. The second conference go-around is scheduled for Feb. 1 at Valor in Highlands Ranch.

“Next time we play we don’t have a chance unless (Thistlewood), Kayden and Joe get double-digit points at least,” Anderson said.

Golden hosted Standley Lake on the 11th, and is now in the midst of a four-game road trip against Littleton, Green Mountain, Evergreen and D’Evelyn — all league opponents.

Valor had the first shot at D’Evelyn, hosting the Jaguars on the 11th.

“We know that Golden and us aren’t the only two big dogs in our league,” Sanders said. “We have to play like we did tonight every game and come out 100 percent.”

The Jaguars grabbed a 49-44 victory on the Eagles’ home court last year before Valor made its run to the 4A state title game and state runner-up finish.

“D’Evelyn clipped us at our place last year,” Pachner said. “We aren’t going to let that happen again.”

Dennis Pleuss, Jeffco, Golden, boys basketball, Riley Stoner

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