LAKEWOOD - Grace under pressure.
Not the underrated Rush album, but Grace Mueller, the Green Mountain senior hoopster who has been the catalyst for the Rams’ impressive season.
And her monster first half carried the Rams to a 57-28 victory over Wheat Ridge Friday at Green Mountain High School.
Wheat Ridge, a notoriously slow starter in most of their games this season, had no answer for the routinely quick start Rams.
And their reputations held true in the two team’s 4A league matchup Friday night. The Rams came out swinging and the Farmers failed to respond, falling being 13-2 in the first quarter.
Fueling Green Mountain’s assault was Mueller, who hit four first half three pointers on the way to her game-high 18 points.
Mueller’s 18 points all came in the first half and they were six more points than the Farmers could generate by halftime, taking a 33-12 lead into the locker-room.
“We try to some out strong and keep the energy up for four full quarters,” Mueller said. “We want to show everyone we are here to win.”
The Farmers came out in the econd half of Friday night’s game looking like a different team. Wheat Ridge was confident and aggressive, and actually outscored the Rams 16-14 in the second half.
However, the damage was already done and the hole that Wheat Ridge dug for themselves in the first half was too deep.
“Our coach helped us refocus and we came out a lot stronger in the second half. But we have a problem getting off to a fast start and we have to get it going earlier in the game,” Wheat Ridge senior Natalie Ross-Smith.
Despite playing sick Ross-Smith led the Farmers with nine points.
Actually, Wheat Ridge looks a little bit like Green Mountain did last season. The Rams were young and inexperienced, but laying down the groundwork for what had been a dramatic turnaround this season from the team that finished three games under .500 last season.
“We don’t come out focused enough and we need to come out with more confidence and realize that we can beat these teams. We need to put to together for four full quarters,” Wheat Ridge junior Erika Lind said. “But we are improving and you can see us getting better.”
Despite their record with less than a month left of regular season play left the Farmers haven’t quit on this season and instead have a “spoiler” mentality.
“To me I think we need to look at it as a new season for the rest of this season because we get to play all of the teams that we already played against. Why not beat them this time around,” Ross-Smith said.
But it might be easier said than done. Remaining on Wheat Ridge’s schedule is Evergreen, D’Evelyn and Golden.
Green Mountain is enjoying their best season in a half-decade. With five games remaining on their schedule the Rams are focusing on trying to improve their playoff seeding.
“We are playing some good basketball, give these girls the credit. We still have a bunch of leagues games left and it is important that we keep playing hard,” Green Mountain coach Rudy Martin said.
Green Mountain (11-6, 6-2) will play at Golden Friday at 5:30 p.m. Wheat Ridge (2-14, 2-6) will play at Conifer Friday at 7 p.m.