FORT COLLINS — You had to wonder what was going through Boulder coach Jack Clarke's head as he leaned on the wall in a dimly lit hallway in the bowels of Poudre High School.
His team had just dropped a disappointing 50-46 game to the host Impalas, and while his team — at least according to the RPI, at No. 34 — is safely in the Class 5A playoffs, he know's he has little time to rally the troops and get them geared up for the most meaningful basketball of the season.
"We are pretty consistently inconsistent and we need to be playing our best basketball now, and I really think we are at times," said Clarke, whose team dropped to 12-10 overall and 6-5 in the Front Range League. "But sometimes usually gets you beat.
"You've got to go for 32 minutes, and we certainly didn't do that tonight."
Things just didn't feel or go right for the Panthers from the opening tip. They were patient on the offensive end and were getting good looks, both from the perimeter and in the paint, but nothing was dropping.
And Poudre (10-12 overall, 4-7 FRL) wasn't much better on the offensive end, but the Impalas were attacking the glass and were winning the offensive rebounds.
"Caleb (Wehmuller) got in bad foul trouble in the first half and Tyler (Turner), too, and the ball gets a little sticky, and I've said it before, we've got to be the best versions of ourselves," said Clarke, about his teams willingness to take the important shot. "We were 2-for-10 in the first half from three with nine turnovers against a team that doesn't really pressure.
"That's not good enough."
Still despite everything not going their way, the Panthers still found themselves in a tight ball game in the closing minutes.
With 58 seconds left, Wehmuller — who led all scorers with 15 points — knocked down his third 3-pointer of the night from straight on to tie the game 46-46.
Poudre, No. 46 in the RPI, would get a huge basket from Tristan Lee to take the lead back with 37 seconds left.
It gave Boulder one last chance to draw something up that would either win it or send it to overtime. With 10 seconds left, the Panthers moved the ball around nicely and got Max Riley a wide open look from the corner, but his shot hit the back iron.
Miller Davison would haul in the offensive rebound, but turned it over with 2.8 seconds left and the Impalas were able to ice it with free throws on the other end.
"Frustrated? No, not with the group, because I think as a whole they have overachieved. Now we just have to finish out strong and send the seniors out the right way," Clarke said. "The seniors need to play like seniors and the juniors need to play like seniors and even the sophomore need to play like seniors.
"And that's a lot of pressure, but that's what makes it fun. The team that embrace that pressure and relish those moments are the teams that move on."
Boulder will close out the regular season on Thursday night at home against Broomfield.
POUDRE 50, BOULDER 46
BOULDER (12-10, 6-5)
Davis 0 0-0 0, Riley 2 2-2 7, Peterson 0 0-0 0, Kang 1 2-3 4, Ericksen-Dunn 0 0-0 0, Turner 2 3-4 7, Wehmuller 6 0-0 15, Davison 3 2-8 8, Sessions 1 0-0 3, Rucker 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 9-17 46.
POUDRE (10-12, 4-7)
Berhnardt 1 0-0 3, Luna 0 0-0 0, Wells 2 1-3 5, Stribling 0 0-0 0, Lee 4 0-0 10, McFadden 3 3-5 11, Forrest 4 0-3 8, Secher 1 0-0 2, Fisher 4 3-4 11. Totals 19 7-15 50.
Score by quarters:Boulder991117—46
3-point field goals — Boulder (5): Wehmuller 3, Riley, Sessions; Poudre (5): Lee 2, McFadden 2, Berhnardt. Total fouls — Boulder 20, Poudre 17. Fouled out — Forrest.