Fairview head boys basketball coach Patrick Burke wanted his team to be tested early against some of the best in the state. Games at Chaparral and Overland were not a way to pad wins for the Fairview Knights, but it builds toughness.
Playing a ranked team in December is also a big test, but Fairview embraces the challenge.
"It's the reason why we wanted to schedule the Centennial League and Continental League teams," Burke said. "We know we belong on that echelon and we've got to prove it."
The Knights proved something in an impressive win over No. 10 Eaglecrest on Tuesday night. Fairview led nearly the entire game, and then held off a late charge from the Raptors to prevail, 69-65, at home.
Mark Dolan led the way with 17 points and Jalen Page, Mark O'Neill and Greysen Carter had 13 each for the Knights (5-2).
Eaglecrest's only lead was in the first minute and Fairview took it from there. The Knights reeled off 17 straight points to lead by 15 in the first quarter, but the Raptors (4-4) never went away.
The lead got down to three, climbed back to double-digits and then shrank again. Fairview could never put away Eaglecrest, in part because it started to coast with bigger leads.
"Especially on the defensive end," Burke said. "When you defend them you have to play the whole possession and we got a little lackadaisical, especially in the fourth quarter. We let them get some easy buckets that should never happen."
The Knights made plays when the game was on the line. They led 59-50 early in the fourth quarter before the Raptors went on a 12-4 run to get within one, the closest they had been since it was 3-2. An offensive foul gave Eaglecrest a chance to take the lead in the final minute but the defense clamped down and got the stop.
"The biggest key was buckling down and making sure we got the basketball," Burke said. "They almost got it but we found a way to get the ball and force them to foul."
O'Neill's basket with 1:29 left put Fairview up three and after a miss by the Raptors, Page went to the line. He had missed three free throws earlier but drained both to make it a five-point game and helped the Knights get a signature win.
"I was trying to be as relaxed and calm as possible. Before that I got myself worked up but the last two I took a deep breath, relaxed and shot it," Page said of the free throws. "It's such a confidence boost. It lets us know we can play with the top teams."
Fairview 69, Eaglecrest 65
At Fairview HS
Robinson 7 3-4 20, Bokel 6 4-5 18, Wilson 3 2-2 9, Ruckard 3 1-2 8, Bile 2 1-5 5, Europe 2 0-0 4, Stilson 1 0-0. Totals 24 11-18 65.
Dolan 6 3-4 17, Page 5 2-5 13, O'Neill 4 5-5 13, Carter 5 2-2 13, Nichols 4 0-0 9, Williams 1 0-0 2, Gordon 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 12-16 69..
Score by quarters:Eaglecrest 11 16 17 21 — 65
3-point field goals - Eaglecrest (6): Robinson 3, Bokel 2, Wilson; Fairview (5): Dolan 2, Nichols, Carter, Page. Total Fouls - Eaglecrest 17, Fairveiw 18. Fouled out - Nichols..