WESTMINSTER - For all but the elite teams atop the rankings, Class 5A boys basketball teams are susceptible to a disastrous night every now then.
Fairview is no different, but the Knights didn't expect Friday to be the scene of their catastrophe.
The Knights travelled to Mountain Range confident against a Mustangs squad that entered with only one league win and five overall, but they departed the gym wondering what the heck happened after a 66-46 loss.
"There was a little bit of a lack of spark," Knights center Frank Ryder said. "The effort was there but the focus wasn't there."
To be fair, Mountain Range (6-13, 2-6) put on a dazzling perimeter display with 13 3-pointers, including five by Tyler Smith. But many came with the outcome of the Front Range League contest no longer in question after what could make a case for the Knights' roughest first half of the season.
Things spiraled away quickly as Fairview (8-11, 4-4) converted only 1 of 8 free-throw attempts in the half and endured a three-point showing in the second quarter. Those points came on an inside 3-point play by Sam Grad with 59 seconds remaining in the quarter, and the Knights went to the locker room trailing 31-12.
"At the end of the day we have to get looks," Ryder said. "I don't think we were moving the ball well, swinging it well. It was a rough quarter, but we can't let that affect us."
Fairview played with more zest and spirit in the second half, and the University of San Diego-bound Ryder finished with the glitzy stat line of 25 points and 10 rebounds. But no other Knights player converted more than one field goal in the game, and Mountain Range matched Fairview bucket for bucket in the second half.
"It was one of those things where I thought we were getting decent looks at the basket," Fairview coach Patrick Burke said. "We were getting shots we wanted to get but the ball wouldn't drop. Sometimes when that happens you get a little frustrated and you hang your head a little bit."
Like Ryder, Burke said the flat performance wasn't a matter of effort. The Knights continued to play hard, but the 19-point halftime deficit proved too difficult to overcome - particular with Mountain Range's prowess from behind the arc. The Mustangs were particularly deadly from the baseline, where they often got open looks with Fairview a little late to close.
Fairview, meanwhile, failed to connect on a 3 until Trent Carson drilled one early in the third quarter. To be clear, Ryder is the only player who returned with significant varsity experience, so some growing pains are to be expected.
"We didn't quit," Burke said. "We're down 20 with less than a minute to go, and we're still flying around."
Mountain Range 66, Fairview 46
At Mountain Range
FAIRVIEW (8-11, 4-4)
Heisner 1 0-4 2, Carson 1 0-0 3, Weatherly 1 3-5 6, Mooz 0 0-0 0, Ryder 12 1-4 25, Khadem 1 0-0 2, Grad 1 1-1 3, Graham-Bell 1 0-0 2, Whittle 0 0-0 0, Tyse 0 0-0 0, Kaufman 0 0-0 0, Pykkonen 1 0-0 3. Totals 19 5-14 46.
MOUNTAIN RANGE (6-13, 2-6)
Polson 2 2-2 8, Castillo 4 5-6 13, Smith 6 2-2 19, Ferrari 0 0-0 0, Rohlman 0 0-0 0, Valdez 5 3-5 17, Romero 2 0-0 6, Terrones 0 0-0 0, Darnell 1 1-1 3. Totals 20 13-16 66.
Score by quarters:Fairview 9 3 14 20 — 46
Mountain Range 15 16 21 14 — 66
3-point field goals — Fairview (3): Weatherly, Carson, Pykkonen. Mountain Range (13): Smith 5, Valdez 4, Polson 2, Romero 2. Total fouls — Fairview 17, Mountain Range 13.
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