ThunderRidge coach Joe Ortiz has his team in the hunt for the Continental League boys basketball title.
And it doesn’t hurt if you have one of the league’s best players on your team.
Zach Rusk scored 27 points in the Grizzlies 63-52 win over Ponderosa last week and followed with 22 points in ThunderRidge’s 66-54 triumph over Legend.
Rusk, a 6-foot-2 senior who will play at Colorado Mines next season, is averaging 17.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.8 steals per game.
“He’s one of the best players to ever play for us,” said Ortiz. “He’s a phenomenal kid with character. He’s a perfect fit for Colorado Mines.
“He’s a great student. The kid can play. He might be our best rebounder. He does everything.”
The No. 4 Grizzlies headed into play this week tied with Regis Jesuit and Mountain Vista for the league lead with 3-0 records.
Mountain Vista played at Regis Tuesday night while Littleton traveled to ThunderRidge.
Friday night, Highlands Ranch is at ThunderRidge, Regis visits Legend and Douglas County is at Mountain Vista.
In other action last week:
MOUNTAIN VISTA -The Golden Eagles got off to a slow start in the first quarter but quickly recovered to post a 63-53 win over Rock Canyon.
Mitch Carter’s 18 points were high for Mountain Vista against Rock Canyon.
Elijah Valdez had 25 points to lead five players in double figures in Mountain Vista’s 94-48 triumph over Littleton.
HIGHLANDS RANCH - Zach Braxton had his third straight double, double as he scored 20 points and pulled down 19 rebounds in a 71-52 win over Douglas County. Evan Motlong led the Falcons with 22 points.
Isaiah Parros had a game-high 23 points but the No. 6 Falcons were upset by Heritage, 70-64 in overtime last Friday.
CHAPARRAL - Brandon Malone had close to a perfect game in Chaparral’s 65-34 win over Castle View.
He scored 18 points and was 6-for-6 from the field including 3-for-3 from 3-point range. However, he was only 3-for-4 at the foul line.
The Wolverines came close but dropped a 64-57 decision to Regis despite a 20-point effort from Mitch Parsons. Chaparral was 2-for-24 from three-point range.
LEGEND - Heritage outscored Legend 17-7 in the fourth quarter to force overtime but the Titans prevailed in the extra session to collect a 67-63 win.
Jonathan Cosmann, a 5-11 senior, had 20 points for Legend against Heritage and he scored 16 points in the loss to ThunderRidge.
PONDEROSA - The Mustangs split two league games, losing to ThunderRidge before earning a 43-31 victory over Castle View.
CASTLE VIEW - The Sabercats losing streak stretched to four games with losses to Chaparral and Ponderosa.
ROCK CANYON - Mitch Lombard scored 23 points for the Jaguars in the loss to Mountain Vista and had a team-high 18 in a 64-48 win over Douglas County.
DOUGLAS COUNTY - Ryley Stewart tossed in 20 points in the loss to Highlands Ranch. The Huskies also were defeated by Rock Canyon.
HERITAGE - The Eagles had to put in extra work last week, losing to Legend in overtime but stunning Highlands Ranch in overtime.
Eli Ziegler, a 6-foot senior, was one of four players to score nine points in the setback to Legend and he tallied 21 points in the upset of Highlands Ranch.
LITTLETON - The Lions gave up 189 points in losses to ranked teams Regis Jesuit and Mountain Vista. Ashton Malmstrom scored 18 points and his twin brother Andrea had 14 for Littleton against the Raiders.
ARAPAHOE - The Warriors scored two key Centennial League road wins with an 82-56 victory over Mullen and a 53-44 triumph over Grandview.
Mitch Albyn led Arapahoe against Mullen with 12 points. Matt Glasscock and Thomas Troutman each scored a team-high 11 points in the win over Grandview.
LUTHERAN - The Lions shot 53 percent from the field and James Willis netted 15 points in a 51-37 league win over Jefferson Academy that ended a two-game losing streak for Lutheran.
Willis scored 25 points as Lutheran, ranked No. 5 in the Class 2A poll, and edged Bishop Machebeuf in a Metro League encounter.
VALOR CHRISTIAN - The Eagles, that state’s top-ranked Class 4A team, managed only one field goal in the third period as Class 5A Rangeview pulled away for a 78-47 victory.
Garrett Baggett, a 6-1 junior, had 17 points for Valor.
RANKINGS - Highlands Ranch and Legend dropped out of the Class 5A poll released Monday.
Mountain Vista remains at No. 2 in the rankings, ThunderRidge is No. 4, Regis Jesuit No. 5 and Arapahoe No. 6.
Valor Christian slipped from first to fourth in the Class 4A poll and Lutheran climbed to third in the Class 2A rankings.