AURORA | The Overland boys basketball team grew up Wednesday night.
In exactly the type of tense game coach Danny Fisher’s young Trailblazers have let slip away at times in the past, they instead prevailed by withstanding a late Arapahoe charge for a massive 72-65 Centennial League victory in a battle of ranked Class 5A teams.
Sophomore De’Ron Davis scored 19 points to lead Overland — ranked No. 8 in the latest Associated Press 5A media poll — which also got 14 apiece from senior T’Aren Williams and juniors Austin Conway and Ryan Swan to improve to 14-6 overall and 8-3 in the league, which is tied for first place with Eaglecrest.
With a balanced, poised effort, Fisher’s team overcame a phenomenal individual performance by Ethan Brunhofer — who scored 30 of sixth-ranked Arapahoe’s 49 points in the second half and finished with a game-high 36 — and avenged a 62-54 loss to the Warriors on Jan. 18.
“Our first goal was to win our league and in order for us to accomplish that, we have to close out close games against good teams and good coaches, that’s just the way it is,” said Fisher, who delighted in his first win in four tries coaching against Arapahoe’s Dan Snyder.
There were plenty of tense moments late, but not many early for the Trailblazers (14-6, 8-3 in the Centennial League), who beat the Warriors (14-5, 6-5) for the first time since Jan. 21, 2010, a span of seven games.
This meeting was tied 12-12 after a quick start by both teams, but Overland’s work on defense and on the boards helped it edge away to a lead that reached 13 points at halftime.
The Trailblazers held the Warriors to just four points over the last 12 minutes of the first half, including a scoreless stretch of nearly eight minutes spanning the last half of the first quarter and first half of the second quarter.
“The first time we played them, they were doing a great job of executing, moving the ball and hitting their jump shots,” Conway said. “Our coach told us they only hit one shot in the first half this time, so that’s a hell of a job for our defense. Our motto is ‘we build championships off defense’ and we went out there and played our motto.”
The second half was a different story, as Brunhofer — who scored just six points in the first half with Davis guarding him closely — played video-game style offense, no matter who covered him.
The Arapahoe senior scored 18 of his team’s 21 total points in the third quarter, including the last 15 of the period, and added 12 more in the fourth quarter. Brunhofer’s burst included three 3-pointers, five free throws and a variety of midrange and inside buckets.
“That was nuts,” Fisher said, shaking his head. “Hats off to that kid. He was the poison we picked and he bit us good.”
But despite Brunhofer’s heroics and the heating up of some of the Warriors’ other shooters, Overland maintained a lead thanks to the work of Davis and Swan in the paint and some big perimeter shots by Conway and Williams, who scored eight points in the third quarter.
Swan didn’t quite match Brunhofer in the third quarter, but the 6-6 post did finish with nine points in the period, countering Arapahoe baskets on multiple occasions. He felt good about filling his role.
“This was a good team effort, everybody did their part,” said Swan, whose 14 points were a season-high.
Conway stepped up in the fourth quarter, when he scored eight of his 14.
The junior guard knocked down a big 3-pointer early in the period following a Brunhofer three-point play, then hit another big jumper a few minutes later after the lead had shrunk to four points at 50-46.
“I was just listening to my coaches who were saying ‘we need a leader, we need somebody to hit some jump shots,'” Conway said. “I know my jump shot wasn’t falling today, but I was going to get into position to make a jump shot. It felt great, I finally broke that barrier of playing alright.”
Brunhofer’s last 3-pointer made it a 59-57 game with 2:54 remaining, but Swan scored again inside, Conway came up with a steal that led to a basket and Davis slammed home a rebound after Conway’s layup missed to expand the lead back to eight points.
Williams sealed the game with a 4-for-4 performance from the free throw line in the final minute-plus.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel
(8) OVERLAND 72, (6) ARAPAHOE 65
Score by quarters:
Arapahoe 12 4 21 28 — 65
Overland 15 14 18 25 — 72
Nick Farmen 2 0-1 5, James Dalrymple 0 0-1 0, Corbin Atwell 2 10-10 15, Ethan Brunhofer 14 5-6 36, Brendan Till 2 0-0 6, Chris Davis 0 0-0 0, CJ Bossart 1 0-0 3, Griffin Hansen 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 15-18 65.
Jervae Robinson 1 0-0 2, T’Aren Williams 4 4-6 14, Austin Conway 5 3-4 14, De’Ron Davis 7 4-5 19, Ryan Swan 6 2-3 14, Reggie Gibson 2 0-0 5, Khalil Jenkins 2 0-0 4, King Grant-Perry 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 13-18 72.
3-point field goals — Arapahoe (8): Ethan Brunhofer 3, Brendan Till 2, Corbin Atwell, CJ Bossart, Nick Farmen; Overland (5): T’Aren Williams 2, Austin Conway, De’Ron Davis, Reggie Gibson. Total fouls — Arapahoe 17, Overland 17. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — Overland.