Peterson has Lakewood Tigers trying to get their claws on title
get a lot of e-mails, but none as awesome as the ones I’ve been receiving this winter from Bill Peterson, a 91-year-old veteran with a longtime love of basketball.
Bill’s five sons include Chris Peterson, who was an all-state basketball player at Jefferson High School in the early 1980s and went on to play at Creighton University. Bill has been keeping me up to date on all things Jeffco basketball — past and present — such as how in his sons’ heydays, Bill said, he was well known for disappearing behind the bleachers during tense moments at the end of games.
Fast forward a few decades, and now Bill says he often has to recharge his pacemaker batteries after watching his grandson, Kolton Peterson, battle against the top teams in the state. Kolton is the star senior shooting guard for No. 7 Lakewood (5-2), and he broke the Class 5A career record for 3-pointers this season.
With Kolton’s grandfather often in the stands — Bill and his 88-year-old wife attend most home games, but night driving often makes it difficult for them to catch road games — and the abilities and achievements of his father wholly within him, Kolton is buoyed by his hoops lineage as he leads the capable Tigers on a push for league and postseason success.
Add to all this the fact that Lakewood coach Daryl Johnson lives only a couple of blocks from Bill’s house in Edgewater, and the result is a family dynamic in the Tigers’ program that is hard to come by in the age of transfers and open enrollment. Johnson notes that he is close with Bill and Chris, who has molded his second all-state basketball player (Kolton’s older brother starred at Green Mountain from 2006-10) in large part thanks to the countless hours put in at High Five Sports, a sports training facility owned by Chris.
“I think back to when I was younger, when my dad coached my brother, and I’d always sit on the bench with him and help out,” said Kolton Peterson, who is committed to play at Colorado Mesa University. “Plus all the hours we’ve spent together at (High Five Sports) has been crucial too, and the amount of shots we’ve put up together and the things I’ve taken from his brain and his experience has really helped me.”
And while Bill admits he will continue to stress while watching his grandson’s Tigers — and while Johnson’s groovy-patterned pants he dons each game day can’t hide the fact that he’s an emotionally charged coach — Kolton continues to be a stabilizing force on the court for Lakewood, which returned its entire starting lineup from last season’s second-round playoff showing.
“He has this great character about him, an easiness about him, because he puts things in God’s hands,” Johnson said. “A lot of times when I’m yelling from the bench, he’s able to calm me down, and that in itself paints a picture of his maturity and his character and how effective a leader he is for us.”
Seniors Dallas Bailey, Brandt Christy and Jacob Storey, in addition to junior Ezekiel Sundberg, complement Kolton’s sharpshooting and give the Tigers the potential to be playing for a 5A state championship at the Denver Coliseum in March.
“Everything we’ve gone through the last four years has molded us, and us four seniors have played together on varsity since sophomore year,” Kolton said. “Year by year, everything keeps getting crisper, and everything gets a little bit better, but now it’s about doing the little things right. I think we’ve been so close to being that great team the last couple years, and this year we have a chance to finally prove ourselves to be a great team.”
For a squad that’s heavy on offensive firepower, the “little things” Kolton speaks of include communication and defense — “If we do that right, it’s going to be game over, because I know we can score,” Johnson said — in a season in which Bill, from up in the stands, ebbs and flows as the Tigers go.
The Tigers’ two losses, to No. 4 Cherokee Trail and No. 1 ThunderRidge, came by a combined three points. Lakewood’s schedule will ease up a bit come time for Jeffco League play after winter break, but the Tigers will surely be battling down to the wire once again when the 5A state tournament starts.
Make no mistake, Bill will be in the stands for that. And for a former tail gunner on a B-24 bomber in World War II, it will be about as much excitement as the old man can handle. Kyle Newman: 303-954-1773 knewman@ denverpost.com or @KyleNewmanDP
Kolton Peterson has Lakewood on track toward the state tournament again.