ARVADA — The Boulder boys basketball team has been white hot since the beginning of January, sustaining a seven-game win streak that spanned 41 days.
But in a nonconference game that could turn out to have major playoff seeding implications, the Panthers didn't have their usual energy against a tough Arvada West team on Monday night.
Done in by a lethargic first half, the Panthers mounted a desperate comeback that fell short on Presidents Day. The result was an end to their momentous late-season win streak and a 46-43 loss on the road to the Wildcats.
"It was a weird day with no school and no bus ride," Panthers junior Luke Wilson said. "We came out stagnant and with no energy. They just had a lot more urgency than we did."
Both teams shot the ball well in the first half, with the Front Range League-leading Panthers (16-6, 10-1 Front Range) making 47 percent of their shots from the field and the Wildcats (14-7, 8-4 Jeffco) making 44 percent. The Panthers, however, turned the ball over 10 times in the first two quarters, twice as many times as the Wildcats.
Arvada West led 28-19 at halftime.
Panthers senior Jack Boyle hit a jumper late in the third quarter, cutting the Wildcats' lead to five to open the fourth quarter, and the Panthers pulled within one at 44-43 with 8.4 seconds left. After a pair of made foul shots from Arvada West's Luke Neff, the Panthers inbounded the ball under their own basket with 7.1 seconds left and a chance to tie the game down three points. Boyle got off a long 3-pointer at the other end, which hit the backboard and the rim but not the net.
"It was a lack of effort, energy and enthusiasm, the three things that Boulder basketball is built on," Panthers head coach Jack Clarke said. "That sums up the first quarter and the first half."
Wilson (12.6 ppg) made his first three 3-pointers of the game and led the Panthers with 17 points on a 5-for-9 shooting night from the field. Leading scorer Landon Taliaferro (17.3 ppg) scored 16 points, including 12 of the Panthers' 24 in the second half.
Clarke said the Panthers never found a rhythm offensively and struggled against the Wildcats' inside-out combo of 7-foot center Dallas Walton (16.6 ppg) and Neff (14.3 ppg). The duo combined for 24 points.
The Panthers will wrap up the regular season at home against Fossil Ridge (15-6, 8-2 Front Range) on Thursday. Unless Fossil Ridge loses to Fairview (8-13, 4-6 Front Range) on Tuesday night, Thursday's game between Boulder and Fossil Ridge will be for the Front Range League title.
"We'll just try to control what we can control and show up ready to play a lot better," Clarke said.
Arvada West 46, Boulder 43
At Arvada West H.S.
Luke Wilson 5 3-4 17, Landon Taliaferro 5 3-4 16, Savoy Carl 0 0-0 0, Sam Kirk 0 0-0 0, Peter Chopra 1 0-0 2, Bill DiScipio 1 0-0 2, Jack Boyle 2 0-0 4, Ben Posthumus 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 6-8 43.
ARVADA WEST (14-7)
Josh Martin 3 0-0 8, Gran Kuhlmann 0 0-0 0, Luke Neff 3 4-4 11, Will Wittman 5 1-3 11, Anthony Erickson 0 0-0 0, Lukas Maly 1 0-0 3, Dallas Walton 6 1-1 13. Totals 18 6-8 46.
Score by quarters:Boulder 10 9 10 14 — 43
3-point field goals — Boulder (7): Wilson 4, Taliaferro 3. Total fouls — Boulder 12. Technical fouls — Neff.