WHEAT RIDGE — The old Jeffco rivalry between Lakewood and Wheat Ridge is alive and well.
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“It’s a rivalry game and everyone wants it,” Lakewood junior guard Julian Duran said. “Whoever comes out on top is the team that wants it the most. That was us tonight.”
Lakewood grabbed a 55-49 road victory in boys basketball action at The Barn over the Farmers on Dec. 16. Duran and fellow junior Sam Silburn led the way for the Tigers (5-4 record). The two combined for 33 points to spearhead a victory for Lakewood before heading into Winter Break.
“That kid, we’ve challenged him,” Lakewood coach Daryl Johnson said of Silburn. “He is a multi-sport athlete and a Swiss Arm knife when it comes to sports. We challenge Sam to give us what we need and he did that tonight.”
Silburn had a team-high 17 points where his work on the inside yielded several easy buckets to complement Duran’s speed in attacking the basket.
“I wanted to win for my team,” Duran said. “I was going to do anything it took to get the win.”
Duran sliced through Wheat Ridge’s defense on several nifty drive to the baskets. His 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter and then driving layup in the final minutes helped keep the Farmers from erasing what was a 13-point lead after the first quarter.
“Our kids were more focused on offense than defense,” Johnson said after the Tigers jumped out to a 13-point lead after the first quarter. “We didn’t defend well and Wheat Ridge started scoring at the foul-line. That is why they caught up.”
Wheat Ridge brothers — Sam and Isaac McCune — both scored 17 points in the loss, but after the rough first quarter the Farmers came close, but never could manage to take the lead.
“That has been our problem all year, slow starts,” Wheat Ridge coach Vince Dowd said. “We have a young group and that is just a part of the learning process. I think this game will help us in the end.”
Wheat Ridge (1-6) cut the Tigers’ lead down to 4 points on several occasions in the fourth quarter, but Lakewood was able answer. Junior Brandon Bazan-Torres had a big 3-point play with 1:30 left in the game with a layup and foul to push the Tigers’ lead to 52-46.
“I’m just lucky to be apart of this rivalry,” Johnson said after Lakewood got above .500. “It wasn’t the prettiest of games.”
Lakewood has a few more non-league games against Pomona and Monarch the week after Winter Break before diving into its Class 6A Jeffco League schedule. The newly formed conference features No. 3 Valor Christian and No. 7 Ralston Valley.
“We have a big chip on our shoulder,” Duran said of the upcoming league schedule. “We’ve been grinding, grinding, grinding non-stop. Teams can sleep on Lakewood if they want, but when we are on the floor we are going to give the best we’ve got.”
Johnson admitted he isn’t a fan of the home-and-away format in the newly formed 6A Jeffco League. Johnson said he would rather have an end-of-season conference tournament and play each team one during league play than having a 12-game league schedule in the 7-team league.
Wheat Ridge has one final game before the New Year. The Farmers host Ponderosa on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
Dowd said he did see some positive signs in the loss with the Farmers fighting back after falling behind by double-digits early on.
“We just haven’t put a whole game together,” Dowd said. “We are working on it.”
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
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