WHEAT RIDGE - After their leading scorer senior Ryan Girtin went down it looked like Wheat Ridge basketball's hopes went down with him as well.
However, the loss of Girtin toughened up a Wheat Ridge team that needed some swagger and confidence, and they used that as fuel to beat Arvada 57-40 Friday at Wheat Ridge High School.
In Girtin's absence junior Stefan Hackethal scored 22 points and recorded nine rebounds, and Deion Trujillo pulled down 13 rebounds and added seven points.
But it was Wheat Ridge's toughness that won them the game, at least according to Arvada coach Tom Baker.
“They got physical with us and we backed down, that's what happened,” Baker said. “They got tough with us and Hackethal got hot, and we didn't respond.”
After a back-and-fourth first quarter Wheat Ridge turned up their intensity. The result was a 16-4 run that gave the Farmers the confidence they have lacked at times during this season.
The turning point in the contest came midway through the second quarter. What was once a tie game quickly got out of hand for the Bulldogs when Hackethal drove to the basketball, elevated and dunked the ball over a crowd of Bulldog defenders.
Moments later, the red-hot Hackethal hit a three that stretched Wheat Ridge's lead to double digits. Hackethal scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half.
“I was preparing for this game and this team and I just wanted to come out strong,” Hackethal said. “Without Ryan (Girtin) we need to come together as a team and be big on the boards and we did that.”
The Farmers attacked the rim for four full quarters, working hard for easy buckets. On the flip side, Arvada as unable to match Wheat Ridge's physicality and while the Farmers were routinely getting layups, the Bulldogs settled for way to many outside shots.
Arvada would pull within eight points late in the game, but they could never slow Wheat Ridge's offense attack.
Arvada junior Elijah Turner scored 16 points, and senior Gabe Enriquez scored 10 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
“We are coming around we just need to do it for four full quarters. We have a couple players coming back that will help us, but we need to match team's intensity or we won't win any games,” Baker said.
But Girtin, who was Wheat Ridge's leading scorer averaging nearly 10 points per game, can only sit and watch his team. The co-captain of the Farmers dislocated his kneecap and will be forced to sit out the rest of the year.
“We are going to miss him and miss his leadership. He was a threat for us and we will have to adjust without him. I feel really bad for him it had to end like this,” Wheat Ridge coach Tommy Dowd said.
Girtin said he will have surgery and will work hard to get back. And he still has designs on playing basketball collegiately.
“It's tough, I am disappointed, and it's my senior year. But I am going to have the surgery and come back and hopefully play somewhere next year,” Girtin said.
Wheat Ridge (2-9, 1-1) will face Conifer Friday at 3 p.m. Pepsi Center.
Arvada (1-9, 0-2) will play at Arvada on Friday at 7 p.m.