The 2018-19 season started out in rough fashion for the Fairview boys basketball team but the way the Knights ended their host Fairview Festival last week got a promising early campaign back on the right track.
In their season opener on Nov. 30, the Knights lost 78-76 in double overtime to Chaparral, a team that took over the No. 1 spot in Class 5A in this week's CHSAANow.com poll. Last Monday in the first quarter of the Knights' first Fairview Festival game against Ralston Valley, junior guard Henry Blackburn suffered a hand injury that will keep him out for four-to-six weeks.
Not even two games into the season, frustration was defining the Knights' winter.
But the Knights rallied following Blackburn's injury and defeated Ralston Valley, 64-46. They went on to win 60-45 over Horizon, and in the finals against a talented Manual team used a 9-0 run while holding Manual's top scorer off the board in the fourth quarter to pull away late in a close game and claim the Fairview Festival championship.
Especially with a roster that had been young for several years but is coming into its own, Fairview head coach Patrick Burke was thrilled to see his players weather the storm and right the ship so quickly.
"We dealt with that adversity and figured out a win to get it done," Burke said. "It wasn't always pretty but the boys played hard and everybody stepped up and we were able to find ways to win games. It was a lot of fun to see the boys go from where we started on Monday to where we ended up on Saturday."
So far this season, the Knights (3-1) are averaging 66.5 points per game and have five players - Jalen Page (15.3), Ashton Nichols (13.8), Mark Dolan (12.3), Greysen Carter (12.3) and Blackburn (11.5) - scoring double-digit points per game.
The Knights weren't the only local team to have an eye-opening experience while hosting a pre-holiday tournament.
Down the road in Lafayette, the Centaurus boys hosted the Warrior Classic. The Warriors (4-2) went 2-1 in the tournament, beating Northfield, losing to Discovery Canyon and then winning 63-43 over Erie to take third at their own tournament.
The Warriors' only two losses this season are to Lewis-Palmer, which is currently ranked No. 1 in 4A, and No. 7 Discovery Canyon. They also beat No. 7 Steamboat Springs in their season opener on Nov. 29 and have since moved up to No. 8 in the 4A rankings. Even with his team in good shape going into Wednesday's home game against No. 3 Holy Family, Warriors head coach Travis Maron has been even more encouraged by how the Warriors don't seem to be satisfied despite being ranked in the top 10 for the first time in years.
"I think the biggest takeaway for us was that we're trending how we wanted to be but still have work to do," Warriors head coach Travis Maron said. "When we played Discovery Canyon, we didn't play well, our energy wasn't very good and we didn't adjust very well to what they were doing to us. It was kind of one of those early wake-up calls that you're just glad happens when it does and not later in the season.
"Talking to our captains after we won the third-place game, I was really impressed with their maturity because they were really focused on not getting wrapped up in the nice things people are saying about us. Even after our win Saturday night, the feeling in the locker room was that they weren't really happy with how we played and that they are determined to work even harder to get better."