LOUISVILLE -- With each deft drive by Brent Wrapp, the signature win that has long eluded the Monarch boys basketball team was slipping away.
But given one last chance Friday night to stop the Fairview star, the Coyotes did it.
A collaborative defensive effort swarmed Wrapp and forced an air ball. Soon after, the hefty Monarch student section swarmed the floor after the Coyotes' spirited 66-64 victory in a contest pitting rivals that both entered unbeaten in 5A Front Range League play.
"Celebrating with the crowd after the game was one of the most amazing moments, not only of this season, but of my life," said Monarch junior Ben Beauchamp, who led the Coyotes with 17 points.
Wrapp scored 30 of his 36 in the second half, and had the ball in his hands with the Knights trailing 65-64 with 10 seconds to go. He was guarded by Beauchamp, who received help from Drew Weaver as Wrapp drove into the paint.
Wrapp's off-balance shot never made it to the rim, and Jay MacIntyre rebounded. Wrapp then fouled out when he wrapped up the Coyotes' newest player. MacIntyre made 1 of 2 foul shots, and the Coyotes held their breath as Fairview's Matt Twist drew iron on a half-court shot at the buzzer.
"That was really exciting basketball, and that's what it's all about for us," Monarch coach Ken Niven said. "It seemed like we tried to give it away -- didn't it? -- with those turnovers and missed free throws, but it was that defensive stop that won the game for us."
Make no mistake, this was no fluke.
Monarch (10-2, 5-0) gamely competed throughout against the Knights (8-3, 3-1), who have been the gold standard of the league. The Coyotes led by 10 at the half and, despite a few Knights runs, maintained a 59-49 advantage beyond the midway point of the fourth.
Only clank-heavy foul shooting by the Coyotes in the fourth (9 for 18) allowed Wrapp's repeated heroics to matter.
"That's been our Achilles' heel the last few games," Beauchamp said. "We really have to work on that, because one of these games, it's going to cost us."
Fairview's visiting student section was full and vocal and created a stirring atmosphere with Monarch's students also in full force. Early in the contest, Fairview students chanted "We want Embree" to MacIntyre, whose father, Mike, recently was hired to replace Jon Embree as the University of Colorado's football coach.
"It's pretty funny," MacIntyre said. "It didn't bother me at all."
Wrapp might have bothered the Coyotes, however. He scored 16 in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth after a quiet first half. He was the only Knights player in double figures.
"I was just trying to get us back into it after being in foul trouble in the first half," Wrapp said. "My shots were falling, so I brought us back a little bit."
Fairview will get Valor Christian transfer Austin Sparks into its lineup for Saturday's game against Boulder. The 6-foot-7 South Dakota-bound senior had to sit out of the first half of the season after transferring.
"We have another big game tomorrow, so we have to be ready to go," Wrapp said. "We can't lose tomorrow because we lost tonight."
With Loveland losing to Fossil Ridge on Friday night, Monarch moved into sole possession of first place in the league standings. The Coyotes are the only team of the 12 in the conference without a league loss.
Beauchamp drilled four of Monarch's nine 3s, including a few key treys in the second half that countered Fairview runs. MacIntyre added 16 points, Kyle Billingsley contributed 13 and Sam Fredricksmeyer 11 off the bench.
"It definitely feels good that we're 5-0 since I'm here," MacIntyre said. "This was a big win, as you could see with all the students being here. Everyone's extremely happy."
Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulWillis21
Monarch 66, Fairview 64
At Monarch HS
FAIRVIEW (8-3, 3-1)
Wrapp 13 9-14 36, Tierney 3 0-2 6, McQueeney 3 2-3 9, Lane 1 0-0 2, Mackenzie 0 0-0 0, Martin 1 0-2 2, Pilkington 2 2-2 7, Hopkins 0 0-0 0, Twist 1 0-0 2. Totals 24 13-19 64.
MONARCH (10-2, 5-0)
Billingsley 5 2-2 13, Krason 1 6-8 8, Lawson 0 0-0 0, Beauchamp 4 5-7 17, MacIntyre 2 10-17 16, Weaver 0 1-2 1, Fredricksmeyer 3 3-4 11, Stewart 0 0-0 0, Kirkman 0 0-0 0.Totals 15 27-40 66.
Score by quarters:
Fairview 14 6 25 19 -- 64
Monarch 14 16 19 17 -- 66
3-point field goals -- Fairview (3): Wrapp, McQueeney, Pilkington; Monarch (9): Beauchamp 4, MacIntyre 2, Fredricksmeyer 2, Billingsley. Total fouls -- Fairview 26, Monarch 21. Fouled out -- Wrapp, Pilkington, Mackenzie, Lawson. Technical fouls -- None.