BOULDER -- The Boulder boys basketball team is proving that resilience might be its No. 1 asset.
Playing shorthanded again Tuesday night due to injuries and with multiple players in uniform battling the flu, the Panthers saw their 14-point halftime lead turn into a one-point deficit entering the fourth quarter against Golden. Add to that mounting foul trouble and struggles at the free-throw line, and things were starting to look bleak for the Panthers.
But led by senior point guard Alejandro Rodriguez, the Panthers regained control in the fourth quarter to pull out a 53-48 victory on their home floor to improve to 4-0.
Rodriguez scored 19 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, to go along with nine rebounds. And BHS drained six free throws in a row in the final minutes after a 1-for-9 start at the line.
"There were a dozen reasons why we should have lost this game," said Boulder coach Eric Eisenhard, whose squad hosts No. 1 Denver East on Friday. "But the bottom line is the team found a way to win after struggling, and that's what true teams do."
Jonah Charnick scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds and was a big factor defensively -- along with Kevin Van Lieshout and RJ Lampert -- in guarding Golden scoring machine Austin Rickard.
"We showed a lot of composure," Charnick said. "We stayed together as a family."
For the fourth straight game, the Panthers held their opponent to fewer than 50 points, and for the first half it looked like BHS would cruise.
The visiting Demons (4-3), Class 4A state quarterfinalists last season, shot just 5 for 30 from the field before halftime. And Rickard, who came in averaging 23.3 points per game managed just six in the first half.
"They play really good defense and clog the passing lanes really well," Rickard said.
But the Demons came out with some defense of their own after the intermission, holding Boulder scoreless in the third quarter until Charnick finally ended the BHS drought with a layup with 3:33 to go in the frame.
A free throw by Golden's Cole Finnegan gave the Demons a 36-35 edge heading into the fourth. But Boulder regained the lead for good, 39-38, on a Joe Szarmach putback, and Rodriguez followed with a 3-pointer that made it 42-38.
Rickard, who got going in the second half and finished with 17 points, pulled Golden to within 49-48 with 1:51 to play. But Rodriguez -- a Mexican foreign exchange student -- iced the game with four free throws in the final 1:21.
The final points were the exclamation point on the night for Rodriguez, who is quickly becoming the Panthers' catalyst on offense.
"He's a big part of this team," Charnick said. "He makes great decisions all the time. He makes us go."
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BOULDER 53, GOLDEN 48
At Boulder HS
Barrett 0 2-2 2, Olson 4 1-2 11, Holmes 0 0-0 0, Finnegan 2 1-2 7, Hammontree 1 0-0 3, Rickard 5 6-7 17, MacCallum 1 0-0 2, Hanggi 1 4-4 6. Totals 14 14-17 48.
Kelly 0 0-2 0, Szarmach 3 0-1 6, Charnick 5 2-5 13, Riverol 1 0-1 2, Van Lieshout 2 0-0 6, Lampert 1 1-2 3, Rodriguez 6 4-4 19, Bohm 2 0-0 4. Totals 20 7-15 53.
Score by quarters:
Golden 3 11 22 12 -- 48
Boulder 9 19 7 18 -- 53
3-point field goals -- Golden (6): Finnegan 2, Olson 2, Rickard; Boulder (6): Rodriguez 3, Van Lieshout 2, Charnick. Total fouls -- Golden 17, Boulder 16. Fouled out -- Olson. Technicals -- Lampert.