WHEAT RIDGE – Both Tommy and Vince Dowd will lead the Wheat Ridge men’s basketball team, but the younger Dowd is at the forefront this season.
Tommy Dowd, who retired from teaching at Wheat Ridge High School before the start of the school year, has been the Farmers boys’ basketball head coach for more than two decades. His son Vince played for Tommy and was an assistant coach for several years.
But now the time has come when Vince will be the one to run the show with his dad as a mentor on the Farmers Bench.
“It’s always weird,” Vince said standing on the bench with his dad in an assistant coaching role. “Those are big shoes to fill. I’m just glad he’s still here and doing it with me. Sharing that with him is the most fun for me.
Vince admitted he might bump into his dad a few times on the bench this year when Tommy gets off the bench.
“I had to tell him to sit down several times,” Vince said with a laugh. “I think the referees were quite relieved when they saw it was me and not him tonight.”
Wednesday night was the season opener and home game for the Farmers. Mullen, after a tough overtime loss to Legacy on Monday, managed to pull off a 66-51 win over Wheat Ridge.
The Mustangs (Centennial League Class 6A team) held a 26-point lead late in the third quarter, but Wheat Ridge had a solid run, cutting the lead to just under 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“Sort of,” Mullen junior Jordan Leslie said when asked if he had any flashbacks to the Mustangs losing a fourth-quarter lead to Legacy. “This time we knew we had to stay strong and stick together.”
Leslie Simple resumed play in the fourth quarter. The junior scored a dozen points in the final 4 minutes to finish with a game-high 23 points.
“I knew once it got close I had to step in and make sure we got the win,” Leslie said.
Wheat Ridge simply didn’t have a defensive answer for Leslie after he left in the fourth quarter.
“Jordan can play,” Vince said of Leslie. “We’re going to watch the movie and talk about how to stand up for a kid like that. I don’t know how many of those we’ll see in (5A/4A) Jeffco. Not many, I guess.
Junior Anderson Brendle contributed 19 points, including three 3-pointers to tie Mullen’s record at 1-1 this season.
“We are happy to have won, but we can always do better,” said Leslie. “We have ThunderRidge on Saturday. If we want to compete with them, we have to play better.
ThunderRidge is No. 3 on CHSAANow.com’s Class 6A men’s basketball preseason rankings.
“We played the whole game,” Vince said of a positive result after the loss. “Last year we had a lot of games like that and it got out of hand. This group learned from that.
The Farmers went 6-16 last year, but return top scorer Sam McCune. The elder got off to a slow start in the first half and got into foul trouble. McCune turned it on in the second half to finish with a team-high 19 points before committing a foul with 2:47 left in the game.
“He’s an all-conference player,” Vince said of Sam McCune. “The longer he is on the pitch, the better it will be for us.”
Wheat Ridge returns to the field next week to compete in the Centaurus Tournament. The Farmers open against Northfield on Wednesday, December 7.