LOUISVILLE -- By their own admission, the Monarch Coyotes turned in one of their least inspired defensive efforts of the season Tuesday against Loveland.
The fact such a performance was put together by Monarch's boys basketball team while the Indians were shooting the lights out proved to be a devastating combination for the Coyotes.
Monarch's slow start defensively was all the Loveland duo of Joe Etling and Conor Lang needed to shoot the Coyotes into submission, as Monarch suffered a 72-62 defeat at home. After winning nine consecutive games to surge into contention in the Front Range League, Monarch has now suffered losses in two of its past three games.
"You have to tip your cap to Loveland, but that first half we just were not very good," Monarch coach Ken Niven said. "In the second half we were, but we lost that game in the first half because of a lack of focus and a lack of effort."
Loveland never trailed after Lang recorded a three-point play less than 3 minutes into the game, and the Indians rode the hot hands of Lang and Etling the rest of the way.
Etling was absolutely unconscious, making all 10 of his field goal attempts and adding a 6-for-7 effort at the free-throw line before finishing with 29 points. Lang, who entered the game tied for ninth in Class 5A in scoring, made seven of his final eight field goals and finished with 23 points.
Overall, Loveland put together some staggering shooting numbers. The Indians went 26 for 38 overall from the floor, an effort that included a 10-for-13 mark after halftime. Loveland also went 8 of 15 from 3-point range, including four from Lang.
Monarch junior Ben Beauchamp kept the Coyotes within striking distance in the first half with four 3-pointers. But the strain of chasing the 6-foot-8 Lang on the defensive end appeared to take some of the hop out of the 6-2 Beauchamp's legs, as he went 2 for 8 after halftime.
"We came out and played terrible defense in the first half. It's probably the worst defense we've played all year," Beauchamp said. "We picked a bad night to do it the way they were hitting. There is a reason (Lang) is scoring 21 a night. He's a good player and he's tough to guard. It takes a little bit out of you, but I'm used to it. I have to step up and play better defense on him."
A 3-pointer by Etling gave Loveland its largest lead at 18 points early in the fourth, but Monarch's Jay MacIntyre scored 11 of his 16 points in the final frame to give the Coyotes a fighting chance.
MacIntyre scored seven points in a 9-0 run that brought Monarch within eight points with 3 minutes remaining, and the Coyotes battled to within six points on a layup by Kyle Billingsley with 1:48 left. But a basket by Lang followed by two Etling free throws extended Loveland's cushion in the waning moments.
"We didn't go out there with as much passion as Loveland did," MacIntyre said. "In the second half we brought it up, but the first half is what hurt us."
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Loveland 72, Monarch 62
At Monarch HS
LOVELAND (12-6, 7-4)
Andrew 4 3-4 11, Strasbaugh 2 2-4 6, Hale 1 0-0 3, Etling 10 6-7 29, Lang 9 1-1 23, Weinmaster 0 0-0 0, Wylie 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 12-16 72.
MONARCH (14-4, 9-2)
Billingsley 3 0-0 6, Krason 5 0-0 11, Lawson 0 0-0 0, MacIntyre 6 3-5 16, Beauchamp 6 2-2 18, Fredricksmeyer 0 0-0 0, Stewart 2 1-2 5, Kirkman 2 0-0 6, Weaver 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 6-9 62.
Score by quarters:
Loveland 22 18 12 20 -- 72
Monarch 14 14 11 23 -- 62
3-point field goals -- Loveland (8): Lang 4, Etling 3, Hale; Monarch (8): Beauchamp 3, Kirkman 2, Krason, MacIntyre. Total fouls -- Loveland 11, Monarch 16.