BOULDER -- The Monarch boys basketball team found out a little about its toughness -- and team depth -- on Tuesday night.
Not only did the Coyotes' 51-49 Front Range League-opening win over Boulder show them that they could grind out a close victory after losing their only two single-digit affairs before the holidays.
But, with half of MHS' 1-2 scoring punch ailing due to illness, the win also saw several role players and a key new addition turn in clutch performances.
"It's just a real good win for us," said Monarch coach Ken Niven, whose team improved to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in league. "We lost two just last-second games. We really needed to find a way to win a really close game like this."
Junior guard Ben Beauchamp was his usual self, pouring in 22 points to lead the way for MHS on the Panthers' floor.
But with Alex Krason -- who averages 14.5 points per game to complement Beauchamp -- playing sparingly, senior Marcus Stewart played what Niven called the player's best game of his career with a 12-point effort. Drew Weaver added seven points, six rebounds and took a key charge late in the game. And junior Kyle Billingsley, playing for the first time this season after breaking his collarbone during football, chipped in six points.
Not to be outdone was transfer Jay MacIntyre, the son of new Colorado Buffaloes football coach Mike MacIntyre. The 5-foot-10 junior guard, who joined the team on Friday, did plenty to endear his new teammates.
MacIntyre came off the bench along with Stewart and Billingsley and registered just two points. But he created multiple opportunities for teammates with drives to the lane, including back-to-back assists during a 10-0 second-quarter run that gave the Coyotes the lead for good. And with Boulder down 50-49 and looking to snatch victory on its final possession, MacIntyre forced Panthers star guard Alejandro Rodriguez into committing a turnover with 4.4 seconds to go.
"Stewart came out hot," said Beauchamp, who hit three of six free throws in the final 61 seconds that proved just enough for the win. "He got a couple of great early buckets. Drew had some phenomenal charges that really changed momentum. And our new transfer, Jay MacIntyre, really came in and provided a huge spark for us. He's a great attacker, plays phenomenal defense, and we're lucky to have him here."
Monarch led by as many as nine in the second quarter, but Boulder (6-2, 0-1) chipped away, forcing 12 Monarch turnovers in the third quarter and holding the Coyotes to just six points in the frame.
The Coyotes struggled at the free-throw line late, and a 3-pointer by Rodriguez with 2:12 to play cut Monarch's lead to 48-47. A putback by RJ Lampert got Boulder to within one again, 50-49, with 31 seconds left. But the Panthers could never gain the lead in the second half.
"Hats off to them," Boulder coach Eric Eisenhard said. "Every time we made a little run they answered."
Rodriguez scored 22 points to lead Boulder, while center Jonah Charnick added seven points and 14 rebounds.
But Monarch's own pressure defense made it tough for BHS to get the ball inside for much of the game.
"Stewart was huge," Niven said. "Weaver was huge. MacIntyre gives us that defender and ball handler. Once he gets into the program ... he only had three practices. Kyle Billingsley only had three practices.
"I just think the potential for us to get better is huge."
Monarch 51, Boulder 49
At Boulder HS
MONARCH (6-2, 1-0)
Billingsley 3 0-4 6, Weaver 2 3-4 7, Fredricksmeyer 0 2-2 2, Stewart 6 0-1 12, Kirkman 0 0-0 0, Krason 0 0-0 0, Lawson 0 0-0 0, Beauchamp 7 6-12 22, MacIntyre 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 11-23 51.
BOULDER (6-2, 0-1)
Turner 4 0-0 8, Szarmach 1 0-0 2, Charnick 3 1-1 7, Riverol 0 0-1 0, Van Lieshout 1 1-2 3, Lampert 2 3-4 7, Rodriguez 9 2-3 22, Bohm 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 7-11 49.
Score by quarters:
Monarch 16 14 6 15 -- 51
Boulder 13 10 9 17 -- 49
3-point field goals -- Monarch (2): Beauchamp; Boulder (2): Rodriguez. Total fouls -- Monarch 14, Boulder 23. Fouled out -- Van Lieshout, Bohm. Technicals -- None.