It is said that team records in rivalry games are just dried ink on the page, and that was the case Feb. 8 as Arapahoe, with a 7-12 record, outscored host Cherry Creek, with its 13-4 record, for a 67-63 victory in the Centennial League boys basketball game.
The Bruins got ahead early but Arapahoe came back. The Warriors put up 23 points in the final quarter to take the lead for good.
Arapahoe coach Brad Jensen said the Warriors badly needed a win.
“We played well the whole game and I am particularly happy about the way the boys held their composure down the stretch. Last year we had a three-point lead with a minute to go and lost to them,” he said. “This is a rivalry game and Cherry Creek is a very good team. It is a tough league and there is never a night off. Coming to their place and getting a win is huge for us. I am so happy for the boys, and although it is late in the season, we are looking at this as a starting point for our team to get better.”
Cherry Creek hit their shots early as they pulled ahead and built a lead that hovered around 10 points for most of the first half, and the Bruins were up 50-44 going into the final quarter. Arapahoe battled back and tied the score 55-55 with five minutes left in the game. They scored the next five points to take the lead for good and won the game, 67-63.
“In the fourth quarter we stopped playing defense like we did in the first three quarters. But I don't want to take anything away from Arapahoe because they hit key shots when they were needed. Arapahoe scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and you aren't going to win many games when you give up 23 points in the fourth quarter,” Cherry Creek Coach Kent Dertinger said after the game. “I am proud of the way the guys kept battling, but I do expect more of us down the stretch. We had a six-point lead going into the fourth quarter, we didn't defend well so they made plays and we didn't. It adds to the fire in our bellies to play good basketball in the final three games so we get a good seed in the playoffs.”
Arapahoe mounted a balanced offense with five players in double figures: Kyle Lukasiewicz with 16, Will Otten and Mitch Sweeney with 13 each and Ben Timmons and Jared Johnson with 11 points each. Timmons, who just returned to action, led the team in rebounding with nine and blocked two shots.
They said it
Arapahoe senior guard Mike Sweeney smiled as he talked about the game.
“Tonight was awesome. We all just kept on believing we could win and we stuck together like brothers out there,” he said. “At halftime we decided we were sick of losing, all of us agreed we were going to win the game no matter what and we did. Personally, I got into the lane pretty well which opened some things up for my teammates, who hit some big shots for us. This is so much fun and I love it.”
Jalen Meeks said for him and his Cherry Creek teammates it was a hard-fought game that went back and forth until the fourth quarter, when it slipped away.
“This game meant the world to me since I am a senior with only a couple more games here at Cherry Creek,” he said. “I got the opening for my shots and I feel I shot pretty well because I have been working hard on these shots in practice.”
He said the loss will fire up the Bruins as they seek wins to close out the season and get a good seed in the playoffs.
After the Feb. 8 game, Cherry Creek remained in third place in the 4A/5A Centennial League with a 14-6 overall record, and they were 6-5 in league with three games remaining in the regular season. The Bruins close out the regular season Feb. 17 on the road at Smoky Hill and then will wait for the state brackets to be released.
Arapahoe's win raised the team's record to 8-12 overall and 3-8 in league. The Warriors close out their regular season on the road Feb. 17 at Overland.