Cougars run out of ammo

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By Brian Forbes

ARVADA — There is a certain qualifier to that whole David and Goliath scenario. Namely, David had rocks.

Five of them, actually.

So rather than beat the giant at his in-close game, David drilled the big guy from distance. Game over.

That was the Evergreen’s plan, and it was working for about a quarter Feb. 22, as the Cougars appeared to have enough outside shooting to equalize the multiple inside threats of mighty Ralston Valley.

Once the formalities were settled, the Cougars started hitting 3-pointers like layups to roar back from an early deficit and make things interesting.

Evergreen, however, would run out of rocks.

“We just went cold in the second half and we stopped making shots,” Evergreen coach Scott Haebe said.

The Mustangs, top-ranked in the preseason, never lost their muscle as they opened the third quarter on an 11-0 run to ignite a comfortable 63-47 victory in the regular-season finale for both squads.

With the loss, the Cougars (12-11, 5-4 Jeffco) dropped to the No. 5 slot in the Class 4A Jefferson County League and were rewarded Feb. 24 with the No. 5 seed in the Bill Weimer Region of the state tournament bracket. The Cougars played 12th-seeded Prairie View (9-12) on Feb. 26 and with a victory will visit No. 4 Sterling (18-6) on Feb. 29.

Against Ralston Valley (18-5, 9-0), the Cougars knew success would hinge on shooting from beyond the arc.

“You just got to live and die by the three,” senior Will Vickstrom said. “That’s been our philosophy from Day One. We know we’re going to be outsized by most teams. The three-ball is what’s going to keep us in games or get us out of games.”

Vickstrom was unconscious late in the first quarter has he hit three 3-pointers, including one from way downtown at the buzzer. Joe Beaudin hit two of his five 3-pointers in the first half and Charlie Blackstock hit two of his three before halftime.

All total, the Cougars connected on 7-of-13 attempts from 3-point range in the first half but made just 4-of-20 attempts in the second half.

“At the beginning, we came out real strong,” said Vickstrom, who was 0-for-3 from downtown after his fiery first quarter. “Joe, Charlie and myself came out strong and were hitting every shot and we just couldn’t continue it in the second half. Joe kept it going in the second half and kind of kept us in the game, but at that point we were having too many turnovers.”

Beaudin led the Cougars with 17 points, Vickstrom had 11 and Blackstock finished with 10.

Ralston Valley broke the game open with an 11-0 run to start the third quarter, shutting out the Cougars for nearly four minutes and building a 40-25 lead. The Mustangs took their big lead at 63-44 on Ribble’s steal and dunk with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

“They’re a very good team,” Haebe said. “We’re not going to get much inside against them. We can’t match up with them inside. We had some opportunities. We had some good looks. They just didn’t go down.”

Evergreen 16-9-10-12—47

Ralston Valley 21-8-21-13—63

Evergreen: Dieter 0 0-0 0, Vickstrom 4 0-0 11, Beaudin 6 0-0 17, Blackstock 3 1-2 10, Schultz 2 0-0 4, Haebe 0 0-2 0, Dodge 0 1-2 1, Tucker 1 0-0 2, Hudak 1 0-0 2, Trimarco 0 0-0 0, Lemasters 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 2-6 47.

Ralston Valley: Flageolle 2 0-0 5, Murphy 4 1-2 12, P. Hornung 8 0-0 16, B. Hornung 4 2-2 10, Ribble 6 1-2 13, Gillach 3 0-0 7, June 0 0-0 0, Felton 0 0-0 0. Totals: 27 4-6 63.

3-point goals: Beaudin 5, Vickstrom 3, Blackstock 3; Murphy 3, Flageolle, Gillach.