BOULDER — When he took off for a dunk during the Fairview boys basketball team's second game of the season against Ralston Valley on Dec. 3, Henry Blackburn didn't think his junior basketball season was in jeopardy.
That unexpected danger became apparent the second Blackburn was clipped on his way up to the rim, however, and was painfully obvious as he fell hard to the floor. On a play that should have given his team a huge boost, Blackburn ended up breaking his right hand and being sidelined for eight weeks.
Well, Blackburn is back.
Having rejoined the No. 8-ranked Knights' lineup last week, Blackburn played in his first game back at his home gym at Fairview High on Friday night. Not only personally satisfying, Blackburn's return to "The Dungeon" also lifted the Knights to a 71-58 victory over local rival Broomfield.
"This is a different type of rivalry for us," Blackburn said. "A lot of the guys on these teams play club together for the Colorado Titans so we all know each other. This is a big one for us. It's a bragging rights type of game and it's a big league game for us. We're really happy to get the win at home.
"For me, it felt great to be back out there. I love playing basketball, I love these guys and I love the team. It felt so good to get a big win like this on a Friday night."
A Division-I football recruit, Blackburn said his injury was a clean break and healed without surgery. It certainly didn't seem to bother him when he hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that helped spark a late run and kill a Broomfield Eagles comeback.
The Knights (15-4, 8-0) led 36-24 at halftime but the Eagles (9-10, 5-3) closed the gap in the third quarter, during which Broomfield's Steven Croell scored 14 of his team-high 22 points. The Eagles pulled within five points with 4 minutes, 32 seconds remaining in the game but the Knights responded with a 12-0 run in the following two minutes and closed out the victory.
"We pushed the pace and we got good rebounds," said Fairview's Mark Dolan, who hit five 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 25 points. "They collapsed the middle and we hit our shots tonight."
Ranked eighth in Class 5A by the latest CHSAANow.com poll, Fairview has now won five games in a row. Three of the Knights' four losses this season are to ranked 5A teams in No. 1 Chaparral (in double-overtime), No. 3 Mountain Vista and No. 7 Overland. Also sitting at No. 8 in the 5A RPI standings with four regular-season games left to play, the Knights have done quite well for themselves in 2018-19 after flashing their immense potential by posting a 17-win campaign with a young roster last winter.
Even with Blackburn's return, the Knights still have several key players on the bench nursing injuries and head coach Patrick Burke believes they are still approaching their potential.
"We have a lot of work to do," Burke said. "Tonight was a good win. They battled, and we knew that's what they were going to do. We have high aspirations and we just have to keep getting better."
Coming on strong after opening the season with a 2-7 record, the Broomfield boys entered Friday's game having won seven of their last nine games and as winners of three overtime contests so far in 2018-19. With four games of their own left to play, the Eagles will be looking for a strong finish to ensure themselves a spot in the 5A postseason bracket.
"Fairview is a really good team," Broomfield head coach Terrence Dunn said. "They're missing some players and they're still able to bring it. We got it close a couple times and they'd turn it on and go on a run. I liked that we were battling the whole game but we just had too many turnovers tonight."
The Knights will play at Rocky Mountain on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, the Eagles will travel across town to take on Legacy.
Fairview 71, Broomfield 58
At Fairview H.S.
BROOMFIELD (9-10, 5-3)
Vanderberg 0 1-2 1, Georgiton 1 0-0 2, Collins 2 3-4 7, Swenson 7 4-5 21, Croell 8 3-4 22, Briggs 0 0-0 0, Stoecker 0 0-0 0, Purdum 0 0-0 0, Morales 2 0-0 5, Barday 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 11-15 58.
FAIRVIEW (15-4, 8-0)
Blackburn 2 1-2 6, Monette 3 0-0 9, Atkinson 2 0-0 4, Page 3 7-8 14, Gordon 0 0-0 0, Dolan 9 2-2 25, Carter 5 0-0 11, Williams 0 0-0 0, Pinto 0 0-0 0, Gann 1 0-1 2. Totals 25 10-13 71.
Score by quarters:Broomfield 17 7 21 13 — 58
3-point field goals — Broomfield (7): Swenson 3, Croell 3, Morales; Fairview (11): Dolan 5, Monette 3, Blackburn, Page, Carter. Total fouls — Broomfield 17, Fairview 16. Fouled out — Croell. Technical fouls — Atkinson.