THORNTON — For the most part this winter, the Boulder boys basketball team has thrived in the closing minutes of tight games.
But on Tuesday night, the Panthers' late-game luck finally turned around and bit them in a 60-59 loss to Horizon. Having won four games by six or fewer points, and winning two of their last three games on a buzzer-beater and in double overtime, the Panthers were the victims of a last-second basket that snapped a three-game win streak and dealt them their first Front Range League loss of the season.
"We didn't care to guard 3-point shooters in the first half and didn't care to guard strong-hand drives in the second half," Panthers head coach Jack Clarke said. "On that last play, we just didn't do our job. Credit to Horizon, they played well, they shot the ball really well, they were better coached and they played with more confidence than we did. We just didn't have five guys doing their jobs at the end."
Entering the game atop the Front Range League standings and looking to start a three-game road stretch on a high note, the Panthers (8-5, 3-1 Front Range) trailed 31-30 behind the Hawks (9-5, 1-3 Front Range) at halftime. That one-point deficit seemed to last the entire second half until the Panthers made a late push in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Senior point guard Davis Kang, who was the hero after making a game-winning 3-pointer against Legacy one week prior to Tuesday's loss, came up with a steal and a layup at the other end to give Boulder a 57-56 lead with 1 minute, 52 second left in the game. After Horizon's Kaden Bennett reclaimed the lead with a jump shot in the paint, Kang responded with a pair of free throws that put the Panthers back up 59-58 with 46.7 seconds left.
"Davis is just really playing like a senior and owning his performance and the team's performance," Clarke said. "He's done a nice job for us. It was a tough early December for him and he's really bounced back nicely and given us what we need."
The Panthers successfully defended the Hawks' ensuing possession and even forced them to call a time out while trying to get the ball in bounds on their next try. With 3.4 seconds left and the Hawks inbounding the ball under the Panthers' basket, junior Elijah Leyshon broke free from his defender and Bennett found him with the inbounds pass for an open shot under the hoop to win the game.
Hitting four 3-pointers in the first half, Horizon's Alex Lawrence led all scorers with 24 points. Sophomore Caleb Caleb Wehmuller (12.5 ppg) hit four 3-pointers of his own and led Boulder with 21 points. Kang (11.1 ppg) scored 17 and junior forward Miller Davison scored 10.
The Panthers will turn right around and play a non-conference road game against Lincoln at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
"We need to come out tomorrow against Lincoln and play better," Clarke said. "We just need to play better and guard the people we need to guard."
Horizon 60, Boulder 59
At Horizon H.S.
BOULDER (8-5, 3-1)
Davis 0 0-0 0, Riley 2 0-1 5, Peterson 0 0-0 0, Kang 4 6-6 17, Sessions 0 0-0 0, Tebo 0 0-0 0, Erickson-Dunn 1 0-0 3, Turner 1 0-0 3, Wehmuller 7 3-3 21, Davison 4 2-2 10, Arthur 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 11-12 59.
HORIZON (9-5, 1-3)
Dragoo 1 0-0 2, Gallegos 0 0-0 0, Lopez 2 0-0 4, Leyshon 1 0-0 2, Cirbo 4 0-0 10, Bennett 4 1-1 10, Lawrence 10 0-2 24, Nitura 0 0-0 0, Trujillo 3 0-0 8. Totals 25 1-3 60.
Score by quarters:Boulder 14161415—59
3-point field goals — Boulder (10): Wehmuller 4, Kang 3, Riley, Turner, Erickson-Dunn; Horizon (9): Lawrence 4, Trujillo 2, Cirbo 2, Bennett. Total fouls — Boulder 12, Horizon 16.