BOULDER --In 35 years of coaching, Fairview boys basketball coach Frank Lee has enjoyed a few winning streaks, but not many have lasted this long.
The Knights needed about half of the first quarter Friday on their home court to dispatch Monarch and capture their 20th consecutive victory in dominating fashion. They led by as many as 41 points and won 81-45.
Fairview raced to a 21-2 lead and never really slowed down, forcing bad shots from the Coyotes and turnovers that led to points. Six different players had scored for Fairview by the end of the first quarter.
"I think the energy we bring every night is the key to the winning streak," senior Shane O'Neill said. "I think we have great team chemistry and we come out every night and play for each other. That's what gets it done for us."
O'Neill was one of four Knights to score in double figures, finishing with 14 points. Jonah Crespi led all scorers in the game with 15. Jay Arehart added 13 and Brent Wrapp had 11.
"I thought tonight we played very, very well," Lee said. "We've been playing very well lately and our goal is to keep improving and I think each time out we've gotten better. They're excited to play. They like the game. They like each other. It's a fun group and a great group to be around."
The Knights improved to 20-1 overall and remained undefeated in the Front Range League at 14-0. Their only loss this season came in the first game of the year against ThunderRidge. It was a contest in which O'Neill was not available for the Knights because of a soccer commitment.
The Knights have won 12 of their past 13 games by double-digit margins and have rarely been tested or pushed into pressure situations late in games this season. That could come back to hurt them with the state playoffs just around the corner now.
But Lee said his team has a nice blend of depth, team chemistry and the right mindset and it could carry it deep into the bracket.
"When you look at the ingredients of good team basketball, they do it all well," Lee said. "They're not concerned about individual stuff. They like what the outcome is going to be. That gets tougher and tougher as the times change."
Fairview is in a bit of an odd situation because of the overall depth and talent in Class 5A this season. The Knights are ranked only No. 6 in the state in the latest Denver Post coaches poll despite their winning streak and dominance in the league. In some respects, that might be working in their favor because there isn't as big a target on their backs.
"All we can do is keep winning games," O'Neill said. "We can't worry about the standings or any of that because that will just mess with our game I think. Right now if we just keep playing our game I think we'll keep winning games down the road."
Lee credits defense and attitude most for his team's success this season, but it also presents difficult matchups with most opponents because the Knights have multiple big men and a bevy of capable outside shooters as Monarch witnessed Friday.
"We want to come out and play hard every night," senior forward Jacob Lorentzen said. "We want to win it all this year and that's the mindset we play with every night. We've got to play like we want to win the state championship and that's what we do every day when we come to practice."
When asked about the rankings and his team's place in them heading down the homestretch of the regular season, Lee chuckled and noted that the Knights actually dropped one spot in the rankings two weeks ago after beating Fossil Ridge. He said he always has preached a one-game-at-a-time approach and will stick to that regardless of what others think of his team.
"Right now our goal is to win the league outright," Lee said. "So we have one more win to get that taken care of. I think we have the ability to play with anybody in the state. Obviously the people who do rank feel that there are five or six teams better than we are, and that may be the case. We'd certainly like to show up and see what happens."
Alex Krason led Monarch with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
Fairview 81, Monarch 45
At Fairview HS
MONARCH (12-9, 9-5)
Moon 1 0-0 2, Yen 0 0-0 0, Sorenson 0 0-0 0, Brooks 4 1-1 10, Weaver 0 0-0 0, Billingsley 2 4-4 8, Krason 4 0-0 11, Padilla 1 0-0 2, Beauchamp 4 0-0 9, Wristen 1 0-0 3, Niessink 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 5-5 45.
FAIRVIEW (20-1, 14-0)
Wrapp 4 2-2 11, Killeen 3 0-2 6, Lorentzen 2 4-4 8, O'Neill 5 3-3 14, Crespi 7 0-0 15, McQueeney 0 0-0 0, Pykkonen 0 0-0 0, Arehart 5 0-0 13, Tierney 2 0-0 4, Busatta 1 0-1 2, Pronk 0 0-0 0. Farone-Collins 4 0-0 8. Thompson 0 0-0 0. Totals 33 9-12 81.
Score by quarters:
Monarch 7 10 11 17 -- 45
Fairview 25 16 27 13 -- 81
3-point field goals -- Monarch (6): Brooks, Beauchamp, Wristen, Krason 3; Fairview (6): Wrapp, O'Neill, Crespi, Arehart 3. Total fouls -- Monarch 10, Fairview 12. Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- None.