AURORA — Sometimes all you can do is take your best shot.
That was the game plan for the Boulder Panthers Wednesday night when they travelled to Aurora to take on the Overland Trailblazers, the defending 5A state champions and a team that is ranked in the top 25 nationally.
And it worked for the better part of a quarter and a half, as Boulder went right after the champs and had them staggered, building a 16-12 lead off of a Landon Taliaferro 3 early in the second quarter.
But Overland's size, speed and talent eventually took over, and the Trailblazers rolled to a 68-40 victory in the semifinals of the Ray C. Ball region.
Overland (22-3) advances to Saturday's Great 8, where they will face Doherty. The Panthers saw their season come to an end at 18-7.
"They're the defending state champions and a top 25 team in the country for a reason," Boulder coach Jack Clarke said.
The Panthers went right after the Trailblazers from the start, forcing Overland into six first-quarter turnovers. And Boulder aggressively attacked the basket, resulting in a pair of Luke Wilson buckets and open 3s that were knocked down by Peter Chopra and Taliaferro and a 10-4 cushion.
"We came out and we played with a ton of confidence," Clarke said. "Not afraid at all. A big part of our goal was to walk out almost on the verge of arrogance."
The Panthers also rattled Overland big man De'Ron Davis, a 6-foot-10 behemoth that will play college ball at Indiana.
Davis, who many consider one of the best players to ever come out of Colorado, turned the ball over two times and didn't even attempt a shot in the first quarter while being guarded by Boulder's Ben Posthumus.
But the Trailblazers are much more than just Davis. Overland closed out the first half on a 16-5 run sparked by Alijah Haliburton, who scored on four consecutive trips down the court at one point in the second quarter as the champs opened up a 28-21 lead.
They then blew the doors off Boulder in the second half, scoring the first 14 points of the third quarter and 11 of the first 13 of the fourth. It didn't help the Panthers chances much that they went ice cold from the floor in the final two quarters either, only converting on 4-of-20 field goal attempts.
And many of those misses turned into fast break opportunities for Overland.
"All of our misses turned into long rebounds and then long outlets," Clarke said. "They're pretty confident that someone is going to get a defensive rebound for them and they just started sending guys. And it got away from us a little bit."
Even with the loss, it was a successful first campaign for Boulder under Clarke's tutelage. The Panthers, which has eight seniors on the roster, won the Front Range League title, and reached the second straight year.
"This doesn't take away anything from what they've accomplished," Clarke said. "They've had amazing four-year careers.
"We look at this year as a success."
Overland 68, Boulder 40
McNeal 0 0-2 0, Wilson 3 0-0 7, Taliaferro 3 0-2 8, Carl 1 0-0 2, Kirk 1 0-0 2, Chopra 2 0-0 6, Di Scipio 2 8-8 12, Baker 0 0-2 0, Boyle 1 0-0 3. Totals 13 8-14 40.
Robinson 3 1-2 8, Gibson 4 1-1 9, B. Haliburton 0 2-2 2, Yousef 0 0-2 0, Hayes 1 0-1 2, Holmes 4 0-1 8, Davis 5 0-1 10, P. Wang 2 3-3 7, A. Haliburton 9 2-3 20, Taylor, Jr. 1 0-0 2. Totals 27 8-14 68.
Score by quarters:Boulder 10 11 5 14 — 40
Overland 10 18 16 24 — 68
3-point field goals — Boulder (6): Chopra 2, Taliaferro 2, Wilson, Boyle; Overland (1): Robinson. Fouled out — Boyle. Technical fouls — Boulder.
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