D’Evelyn boys win over rival Green Mountain

Last-second steal, layup gives D’Evelyn boys win over rival Green Mountain
Posted on 02/15/2023
This is the image for the news article titled Last-second steal, layup gives D’Evelyn boys win over rival Green Mountainwritten by: Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Sports Information

LAKEWOOD — It was only fitting to have a defensive play determine the winner Wednesday night at Green Mountain High School.

Jeffco rivals D’Evelyn and Green Mountain battled in a defensive struggle in the first-round of the Class 5A/4A Jeffco League boys basketball end-of-season tournament. A huge steal and ensuing layup by D’Evelyn senior Kellen Olson in the closing seconds gave the Jaguars an emotional 42-41 victory.

“That was all Taj Kumar. I just finished the layup like we always do,” Olson said of junior Taj Kumar’s defensive play that led to Olson’s game-winning layup with about 6 seconds left on the clock. “Taj put in the great work. He was playing with four fouls. He is just a dog, a great player.”

Green Mountain (14-8 record) led 41-40 with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Rams in bounded the ball, but Kumar was able to knock the ball away from Green Mountain junior Austin Beeson in the back-court.

As Kumar and Beeson both fell to the court going after the loose ball, Olson sprinted in from mid-court to grab the ball and drive for the layup. The Rams were able to get the ball past mid-court, but couldn’t get off a shot at the buzzer.

It was a rematch from last Friday’s conference finale between the Rams and Jaguars. Green Mountain edged D’Evelyn in overtime to secure the No. 2 seed for the end-of-season league tournament and earn the home game for the end-of-season tournament rematch. The Rams outscored the Jaguars 10-1 in the extra period to grab a 51-42 victory.

Wednesday’s win for D’Evelyn (12-9) ended a 3-game losing streak that included a home loss to Golden, a close 3-point road loss to Dakota Ridge and Green Mountain.

“As a coach you kind of want to be in those scenarios, especially when you are getting ready for playoffs,” D’Evelyn coach Will Gosch said of the Jaguars playing their last three games that were either decided in the closing seconds or went overtime. “The nerves are different. That atmosphere is different.”

D’Evelyn will likely be on the road for the first round of the 32-team 4A state tournament that is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Feb. 22. The Jaguars were No. 25 in the 4A boys basketball RPI rankings before the dramatic win over Green Mountain.

The Jaguars will get a chance to get a nice RPI boost when it faces Dakota Ridge — No. 6 in the CHSAANow.com 5A rankings — on Friday, Feb. 17, on the Eagles’ home court. The 5A/4A Jeffco League champions defeated Evergreen 76-40 on Wednesday to set up the rematch that Dakota Ridge won 65-62 a week ago on a last-second 3-pointer from senior Alex Rodriguez.

“Dakota Ridge is a great team for us to play,” Gosch said. “They are a solid team that plays well together. They are all seniors. It will prepare us for the state playoffs and that is what it is all about.”

Green Mountain is on the bubble to host a first-round playoff game in a week. The Rams were No. 17 in the 5A RPI rankings before Green Mountain had its 3-game winning streak snapped against D’Evelyn.

The Rams will host Evergreen in their final regular-season game Friday, Feb. 17.

Green Mountain struggled offensively, including scoring just two points in the first quarter. However, junior AJ Maher came off the bench for three 3-pointers in the second half to help the Rams’ erase a 12-point deficit late in the third quarter.

It was the first game of the year for Maher who was coming off an injury.

D’Evelyn also got a lift from the return of senior Elijah Gusmus. The Jaguars’ leading scorer hadn’t played since before Winter Break due to a knee injury. Gusmus didn’t start, but had a 3-pointer in the first quarter in spot duty in his return to the court.

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