Throw-Back-Thursday: Late free throw lifts Ralston Valley over Arvada West

This was a historic article, and the fact that the byline said it was written by a ‘Andy McConnell’ (not McDonnell) isn’t the only reason. It was also my first ever published article in The Denver Post.

ARVADA — Only 3.3 miles and two little yellow cords between rambunctious student sections separated Ralston Valley and Arvada West. Those close quarters made for a hotly contested matchup Friday between the top two girls teams in the Jefferson County 5A League.

“Emotions,” said Mustangs coach Jeff Gomer as he tried to catch his breath after the game. “It’s Arvada West versus RV. We don’t have to talk about that.”

In a game that came down to the final seconds, Ralston Valley (12-3, 8-0) was able to pull out a home victory 35-33 over Arvada West (12-2, 7-1), which recently found its way into the No. 10 spot in The Denver Post Class 5A media poll.Both teams came into the game with unblemished conference records, but neither could get into a rhythm and secure momentum.

[Read article in the Denver Post HERE.]

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The game went back and forth, with neither team being able to hold a lead larger than three points.

With 38.8 seconds left in the game and gridlocked at 33 points, Mustangs sophomore Chantal Jacobs was fouled, sending her to the free-throw line.

“I couldn’t focus,” said Jacobs, who was noticeably distraught after missing the first free throw. “Then my teammate Kristina (Fischer), she’s like ‘Act like nobody’s here. Act like it’s practice. Come on.’ And, with her help, I knocked it (the second free throw) down.”

Fischer sealed the victory with a free throw, and the Mustangs’ defense held the advantage, giving them an exhilarating win.

“Both teams gave it everything they got. The defenses played awesome,” Wildcats coach Tim Slabach said “The kids played their hearts out.”

The crowd, filtered with different shades of blue and purple, were treated to a physical contest. Ralston Valley now holds sole possession of first place in the conference.

“It’s a battle,” Slabach said. “It’s one of those rivalries that you love to play.”

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