BOULDER -- Besides bragging rights, there's proven to be plenty at stake in the Fairview-Boulder boys basketball games over the past four years.
In each of the last four full seasons, the team that prevailed in the intra-city series went on to win the Front Range League title, with Fairview claiming the championship three times (2009, '10 and '12) and Boulder once (2011).
That's a good omen for FHS, which defeated the Panthers 76-63 Saturday night in front of a few thousand fans at the Coors Events Center. The teams will meet for a second time this season on Feb. 15.
In a game that marked the Fairview debut of heralded senior Austin Sparks, the Knights fended off Boulder after the game was tied three times in the third quarter, the last being at 45.
With senior Trevor McQueeney scoring 13 of his 20 points in the first period, and Sparks coming to life in the second half by tallying a dozen points, Fairview won for the fifth time in its last seven meetings with its rival.
"In warmups, I didn't miss a shot," said McQueeney, who started with a four-point play and finished the first period with four 3-pointers. "I just thought, 'Once I go out there, I'm shooting it.' And once I got open looks, I kept shooting it, and I kept making it."
As for Sparks, the 6-7 center who had to sit out the first half of the season after transferring from Valor Christian, he started the game but got into foul trouble early. However, the University of South Dakota signee came on strong in the second half, scoring and hitting the boards when Boulder ran short of big men.
"It felt great to get out there, but I had some nerves at the beginning," Sparks said. "I picked up those two (early) fouls and had to sit the bench. Once I got back out there in the second half, my teammates picked me up and got me going."
With the victory, the Knights bounced back a night after losing to Monarch and seeing their 19-game Front Range League victory streak end. In winning seven of its last eight, FHS improved to 9-3 and 4-1 in league action. Fairview's three losses have come by a combined five points.
Boulder, meanwhile, saw its two-game win streak snapped in falling to 8-4 and 2-3.
After trailing by as many as nine points in the first half, the Panthers scored eight of the last 10 points before intermission to trim their deficit to three.
And with Alejandro Rodriguez leading the way with 29 points -- 15 from the free-throw line -- BHS knotted the score at 41, 43 and 45 in the third quarter. But with 6-2 senior RJ Lampert out with an ankle injury that coach Eric Eisenhard said "looks bad," and with 6-4 Jonah Charnick sidelined with four fouls, the Panthers couldn't stop Sparks and the Knights.
"We failed to respond to that little run they had in the fourth," Eisenhard said. "We didn't get good possessions on the offensive end. And I kind of felt like we ran out of gas a little bit toward the end of the game with substitutions and injuries.
"And (Sparks) was great in the second half. He was a big difference, especially with us having two posts on the bench.?
Boulder was within three early in the fourth period, but Fairview went on a 19-7 run from there to put the game away. The Knights shot 36 free throws for the game, making 23.
"I thought our kids battled hard, and I thought Boulder battled hard," FHS coach Frank Lee said. "They (the Panthers) obviously had some injuries, but they played with a lot of heart.?
Boulder senior Marc Krimstock, who is recovering from skull and facial fractures he suffered in a bicycle accident in early December, suited up for warmups Saturday, but didn't play. Eisenhard said he will be re-evaluated on Feb. 1.
"I expect that he'll be back before the end of the season, which we were excited to hear because there was a moment when he was on his ninth day in the (intensive care unit) when I didn't think he was ever going to see the floor again," Eisenhard said. "Doctors say it looks hopeful -- looks good actually."
Next up for Fairview is a game at Fossil Ridge on Tuesday, while Boulder will host Rocky Mountain that night.
FAIRVIEW 76, BOULDER 63
At Coors Events Center
BOULDER (8-4, 2-3)
Charnick 3 4-4 11, Van Lieshout 1 0-0 2, Lampert 2 3-4 7, Rodriguez 6 15-18 29, Bohm 2 0-1 4, Turner 1 3-4 5, Szarmach 0 0-0 0, Riverol 2 0-0 5. Totals 17 25-31 63.
FAIRVIEW (9-3, 4-1)
Wrapp 1 6-10 8, Tierney 4 0-1 8, McQueeney 7 1-1 20, MacKenzie 2 2-2 6, Sparks 3 6-9 12, Lane 2 7-9 11, Martin 5 1-2 11, Pilkington 0 0-0 0, Schneider 0 0-2 0, Twist 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 23-36 76.
Score by quarters:
Boulder 18 18 16 11 -- 63
Fairview 19 20 16 21 -- 76
3-point field goals -- Boulder (4): Rodriguez 2, Charnick, Riverol; Fairview (5): McQueeney 5. Total fouls -- Boulder 27, Fairview 20. Fouled out -- McQueeney. Technical fouls -- none.