LOUISVILLE -- With a comfortable lead throughout Friday night's contest, the Monarch boys basketball team appeared en route to an impressive trifecta.
A 2-0 start. Two home wins in three nights. And a victory against the defending Class 5A champions.
Then Brandon Malone spoiled it all.
Chaparral's sharpshooting guard drilled seven 3-pointers and was nearly a one-man comeback. He helped the Wolverines wipe out a double-digit halftime deficit and shock Monarch 53-52 in the nonleague contest.
"He's one of the best players we'll face all year," said Monarch junior Ben Beauchamp, who led the Coyotes with 21 points. "He's hard to stop, and once he catches fire like that, there's not much you can do."
Malone scored 14 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead basket in the final minute. If that wasn't enough, he guarded Beauchamp on Monarch's final possession and helped force him into a desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
The Coyotes called timeout with 15 seconds left and tried a clear-out for Beauchamp, who was guarded fiercely by Malone, who then received help from teammates when the clock wound down to about 5 seconds. Beauchamp was trapped on the left wing and his fall-away jumper hit rim but was wide left.
"We were trying to get a clear-out where we had four guys in the corner, and just let me attack the basket," Beauchamp said. "They did a good job trapping, and when you have two huge guys on you, it's hard to see if anyone is open. I should have passed it out."
Monarch coach Ken Niven didn't fault Beauchamp on the final play.
"It wasn't Ben. We just didn't execute," Niven said. "We wanted to get the ball to one of the forwards off the trap and we froze. We're so young. We had three sophomores on the floor at the time."
For most of the contest, things were rosy for Monarch (1-1). Beauchamp and Alex Krason each nailed four 3s, including three each in the first half as the Coyotes built a 10-point cushion.
Monarch entered the fourth up 39-31, but Malone caught fire and Chaparral began the quarter with a 15-2 run.
Beauchamp scored five straight points -- a 3-pointer followed by a layup with 51 seconds to go -- to give Monarch the lead back at 52-51. But Malone countered with a bucket moments later, setting up the final possession.
"I just wanted to do as much as I could for the team and step up," Malone said. "I just needed confidence, and confidence helped me."
Last season, Chaparral won the 5A title in dramatic fashion on Josh Adams' tip-in at the overtime buzzer to defeat Arapahoe (Malone had four points in that one). Many have graduated from that squad, and the Wolverines (1-1) began the season with a 65-43 loss to Eaglecrest on Wednesday.
Monarch, meanwhile, thumped Standley Lake 57-32. The Coyotes were on the way to 2-0, but Malone made certain it didn't happen.
"He took the game under control," Niven said of the 6-footer. "He's so big, and we're neither big nor strong. It was a tough matchup for us."
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CHAPARRAL 53, MONARCH 52
At Monarch HS
Malone 9 3-6 28, Holtzmann 4 1-2 9, Coon 0 0-0 0, Keyser 4 1-2 9, Moody 2 0-0 5, Carter 1 0-0 2, Dalton 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 5-10 53.
Stewart 3 2-3 8, Kirkman 1 2-2 4, Krason 4 3-4 15, Lawson 1 0-2 2, Beauchamp 6 5-6 21, Weaver 0 2-2 2, Fredricksmeyer 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 14-19 52.
Score by quarters:
Chaparral 5 12 14 22 -- 53
Monarch 8 19 12 13 -- 52
3-point field goals -- Chaparral (8): Malone 7, Moody; Monarch (8): Beauchamp 4, Krason 4. Total fouls -- Chaparral 13, Monarch 16. Fouled out -- Dalton, Holtzmann. Technical fouls -- Chaparral, Coach Johnson.