When an object is in motion, science says it should stay in motion.
After knocking off league rival and 5A powerhouse Fairview last Thursday, the Boulder boys basketball team was, without a doubt, in motion heading into the state tournament.
Looking to stop the No. 27 seed Panthers in their tracks was No. 38 seed George Washington. While the former state runner-up came into the tournament humbled by an 11-12 regular season record, the squad was eager to make a statement Wednesday night.
Despite a 12-point surge by George Washington star Kendale Johnson late in the game, forward motion favored the Panthers, as Boulder (13-11) defeated the Patriots (11-13) 54-47 to advance in the 5A state tournament.
Solid defense on both ends kept the game close early on. Just one point separated the two teams at the end of the first half. The Panthers led by as many as seven points in the second quarter but a 6-0 George Washington run late in the second quarter brought the Patriots within one point at the halftime buzzer.
While points could hardly separate the two teams, defensive and offensive rebounds did. Loose balls continued to fall into Panther hands, giving Boulder opportunities for put-back points the Patriots struggled to defend. Just six of the Panther's 54 points came from beyond the arc.
It was clear at halftime that the game would come down to the wire — and it did.
Back-and-forth play continued late into the second half. The Panthers continued to grab rebounds as the Patriots began to find luck from beyond the arc. Boulder passed through the Patriot press and continued to fight for points down low as Johnson fired back with deep three-pointers.
Made free throws sustained the small Panther lead late in the game as a 3-pointer from Junior Adam Sessions stretched the Boulder lead to five points. A pair of free throws with under 10 seconds remaining solidified the seven-point victory.
Tyler Turner, who scored 23 points in Boulder's win over Fairview, came alive in the third quarter and finished with a game-high 17 points.
"He's just one of those guys who you have to keep instilling confidence in and he'll surprise you," head coach Riley Grabau said about the junior. "He's worked on his game and he's becoming a leader and a guy who's going to be aggressive off the deck. He comes up big for us in big games."
Johnson, who averaged 18.8 points for the Patriots coming into Wednesday night's game, was held to just two points in the first half. The sophomore finished with 14 points and found confidence from beyond the arc late in the game, but his efforts fell short.
Last year, Boulder's tournament dreams ended early after a 58-42 first-round loss to Cherokee Trail. After Wednesday's victory, the Panthers now set their sights on defending state champions, Grandview, on Saturday. Coach Grabau hopes to bring a focused mentality into the matchup.
"They have a great program and we're going to have to be ready. We need to go into that game doing what we do best and not worry about the opponent."
The Wolves (17-6) earned a bye in the first round of play and will likely give Boulder its toughest game of the season — unless, of course, science says otherwise.
Boulder 54, George Washington 47
At Boulder HS
GEORGE WASHINGTON (11-13)
K. Johnson 5, 0-0, 14; Martin 3, 2-2, 9; Ageymang 1, 4-6, 6; McPhee 3, 2-3, 9; Whitelaw 0, 2-2, 2; Hageman 1, 0-0, 2; Hammons 2, 0-0, 5; Thompson 0, 0-0, 0; Ali 0, 0-0, 0; Paris 0, 0-0, 0; J. Johnson 0, 0-0, 0; Waterson 0, 0-0, 0; Totals: 15, 10-13, 47.
Sessions 2, 0-0, 5; Bartsch 1, 0-0, 2; Tanner 4, 1-2, 9; T. Turner 6, 4-4, 17; Arthur 1, 3-6, 5; Davison 3, 4-5, 10; Rucker 2, 2-2, 6; R. Turner 0, 0-0, 0; Starry 0, 0-0, 0; Schmid 0, 0-0, 0; Blessing 0, 0-0, 0; Boyle 0, 0-0, 0; Totals: 19, 14-19, 54.
3-point field goals — Boulder (2): Sessions 1, Turner 1; George Washington (7): K. Johnson 4, Martin 1, McPhee 1, Hammons 1; Total fouls — Boulder 20, George Washington 20; Fouled out -— Martin, Whitelaw; Technical Fouls — None.