LOUISVILLE -- Kyle Billingsley frequently helps the Monarch basketball team erupt to roaring starts with his searing early-game shooting.
On Tuesday night, he was the closer.
Billingsley's heroics were part of three stunning plays that transformed what appeared to be a certain Coyotes loss into a spellbinding 55-53 home win against Boulder.
The junior's baseline 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, his first field goal of the contest, sent the Coyotes to yet another heart-stopping win and Boulder to yet another heartbreaking defeat.
Billingsley had been 0 for 5 from the floor before splashing through the winner.
"I wasn't shooting good," Billingsley said. "I couldn't buy a basket before then, no matter what kind of shot it was. It felt good out of the hand, and I had to make a shot sooner or later."
The Coyotes (16-4, 11-2) appeared dead in the water when the visiting Panthers, who had trailed for most of the Class 5A Front Range League contest, led 53-49 and had the ball with less than a minute to play.
But after Monarch forced a jump ball, the Coyotes' perfect-storm trifecta ensued. First, Jay MacIntyre drilled a 3 from the top of the key to make it 53-52 with 29 seconds to play.
After Boulder missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, Ben Beauchamp corralled the last of his nine rebounds and Monarch set up a play. Billingsley drilled the go-ahead 3 from the left side, and Boulder called timeout with 10 seconds left.
The Panthers' Alejandro Rodriguez, who scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, was near the top of the key when Monarch's Erik Lawson darted in, stole the ball and ran out the clock.
"It was a great play," said Monarch coach Ken Niven, whose team remained on track for a potential all-the-marbles meeting with Fairview in the league finale Feb. 21. "The same thing happened before, where we won it with a defensive play."
Rodriguez brought to life previously dormant Boulder (13-7, 7-6), which was saddled with its second two-point loss to the Coyotes this season and also endured a last-second stunner to Fossil Ridge on Feb. 5.
Rodriguez's hard take to the hoop gave Boulder its first lead of the second half at 48-47 late in the fourth, and the Panthers pushed it to 53-49 when Jonah Charnick nailed a 3 with just over 1 minute to play.
At that moment, it didn't seem likely that Rodriguez would be playing from behind in the final seconds, and even more unlikely that the only non-guard of Monarch's starting five would make the clinching steal.
"We were trying to get him an angle off the ball screen," Boulder coach Eric Eisenhard said. "They hedged it hard, which they hadn't done all game, and he just wasn't ready for that read."
Despite the theatrics, neither coach was very impressed with his team's play. Niven told an assistant "it's not our night" even when Monarch was leading by five in the fourth.
"We were just out of sync offensively," Niven said. "I thought both teams played well defensively."
Eisenhard was even more to the point, saying: "We didn't play well at all. It was one of our worst games of the year. I mean, hats off to Monarch, because they had something to do with that by controlling the tempo. But that was awful.
"It was puzzling."
Charnick added 13 points for the Panthers and Garrett Turner 11, including three of Boulder's eight 3s.
Beauchamp led the Coyotes with 17 points, but all came in the first three quarters. MacIntyre scored 10 of his 16 in the fourth, seemingly upping his team's sense of urgency when Boulder took command.
Billingsley scored all five of his points in the fourth, perhaps re-channeling his previous niche.
"Since league has started, we've pretty much played to our opponent's level every game," Billingsley said. "All our games have been close, so now we've grown used to it. And we're becoming more clutch."
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Monarch 55, Boulder 53
At Monarch HS
BOULDER (13-7, 7-6)
Turner 3 2-5 11, Charnick 4 3-3 13, VanLieshout 2 0-0 5, Rodriguez 9 2-3 22, Bohm 0 0-2 0, Riverol 1 0-0 2, Lampert 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 7-13 53.
MONARCH (16-4, 11-2)
Billingsley 1 2-2 5, Krason 2 1-1 5, Lawson 3 0-0 6, Beauchamp 4 7-7 17, MacIntyre 4 6-12 16, Fredricksmeyer 0 0-0 0, Stewart 1 0-0 2, Kirkman 1 1-2 4, Weaver 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 17-24 55.
Score by quarters:
Boulder 12 8 13 20 -- 53
Monarch 14 13 13 15 -- 55
3-point field goals -- Boulder (8): Turner 3, Charnick 2, Rodriguez 2, VanLieshout; Monarch (5): Beauchamp 2, MacIntyre 2, Billingsley. Total fouls -- Boulder 21, Monarch 13. Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- None.