It had been five years since Boulder High School last celebrated a Front Range League title in boys basketball, and coach Jack Clarke can still recall all the details.
"I remember everything," said Clarke, who in 2011 was an assistant under Alan Schulz as the Panthers went on to finish as the 5A state runner-ups. "I remember that team really fondly and I just told (the current team), 'That's always been the team that's been talked about -- obviously for the right reasons.' Now these guys can be the next guys. Boulder basketball is not like a one-year thing. It's reload instead of rebuild every year."
Indeed, now with Clarke in his first season as head coach, Boulder on Thursday night claimed its first league title since 2011. With the championship going to the winner of Thursday's regular-season showdown against Fossil Ridge, the Panthers left no doubt with a 70-54 victory.
"It's amazing," said senior Bill Di Scipio, who played a key role defensively on Thursday. "We had a team meeting way before the season started and (winning the league) was our first goal. To get that one is absolutely awesome."
Added junior Luke Wilson, who scored a game-high 24 points, hitting six 3-pointers in the process: "We put so much work into this. It's just a great feeling knowing that for all the ups and downs, for all the tough practices, that we finally came out on top."
By winning eight of its last nine games, Boulder (17-6, 11-1 in league) likely will land a top-16 seed in the 5A state playoffs when the 48-team bracket is announced on Sunay, which would mean a first-round bye.
"We'll play whoever they tell us to play," Clarke said. "We're excited for it. We don't fear anybody. We feel if we play like (we did Thursday), we can beat anybody in the state."
Indeed, the Panthers dominated a Fossil Ridge team that finished the regular season 16-7 and 9-3 in league. They bolted out to a 9-1 lead, expanded it to 33-14 before intermission, and never let the SaberCats get within single digits in the second half.
Most remarkable was the way Boulder kept the state's top scorer in Class 5A, Braxton Bertolette, in check. Bertolette came into the contest averaging 24.3 points per game. Against BHS, he finished with seven, nine fewer than his previous low game of the season. Even more stunning was that he didn't make a field goal, also a first this season.
Di Scipio stuck on Bertolette like a glove. And when it wasn't Di Scipio, Sam Kirk did the honors in frustrating Bertolette.
"Sam Kirk had the best 0-point, 4-foul game in the history of high school basketball," Clarke said with a smile.
"They just got in his head," Wilson said of Di Scipio and Kirk. "They played up on him and didn't let him get any open shots."
Added Di Scipio: "I don't think we lost him once. We really kept him under control. I don't think that's happened all year where he hasn't hit a field goal, so I think maybe he was getting a little frustrated."
Overall, Boulder -- a team which has kept 14 opponents under 50 points this season -- held Fossil Ridge to 35 percent field goal shooting.
On the other end, the Panthers drained 11 3-pointers. Senior Landon Taliaferro drained four in the first-period alone en route to 16 points on the night. And Wilson spread his six treys over the four quarters. Senior Jack Boyle, who made the remaining 3, tallied a dozen points.
"We feel like we're one of the most talented shooting teams in the state," Clarke said.
And, of course, a fair amount of credit should got to Clarke, who led BHS to a league title in his first year at the helm.
"The foundation for this was laid way before I was named the coach," he said. "What coach Schulz did and what coach E (Eric Eisenhard) continued ... The culture that both of those guys built ... I was just kind of lucky to step into it. They're as much part of it as I am."
Boulder 70, Fossil Ridge 54
FOSSIL RIDGE (16-7, 9-3)
Bertolette 0 7-8 7, Grove 3 0-0 7, Everhart 8 3-4 19, Schmidt 3 1-2 8, M. Schilling 2 1-2 6, C. Schilling 0 5-6 5, Van Wyhe 0 0-0 0, Ripsam 1 0-1 2. Totals 17 17-23 54.
BOULDER (17-6, 11-1)
Wilson 8 2-2 24, Taliaferro 6 0-2 16, Chopra 4 0-0 8, Di Scipio 1 4-8 6, Boyle 4 3-3 12, McNeal 0 2-2 2, Carl 0 2-4 2, Kirk 0 0-0 0, Ryan 0 0-0 0, Posthumus 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 13-21 70.
Score by quarters:Fossil Ridge 9 9 18 18 — 54
Boulder 23 10 22 15 — 70
3-point field goals — Fossil Ridge (3): Grove, M. Schilling, Schmidt; Boulder (11): Wilson 6, Taliaferro 4, Boyle. Total fouls — Fossil Ridge 19, Boulder 20. Fouled out — none.