BOULDER -- The Boulder girls basketball team grabbed its gear off the bench and walked silently to the locker room. The Panthers weren't happy after a 49-38 loss to ninth-ranked Horizon on Thursday, but after playing in one of the toughest conferences in the state they are looking ahead.
"The girls were upset because they wanted to win this game, and I did too," Panthers coach Ron Burgin said. "But in the big scheme of things we played well and we're fine. The playoffs are coming and that's what matters."
Boulder finished 8-8 in the Front Range League and down in the standings but the record doesn't reflect how well the team has played, Burgin said. After starting the season with eight straight road games the Panthers faced a tough game nearly every night in league play.
"Our league is so difficult, people don't understand," Burgin said. "We never had an easy game."
The Panthers would have preferred to head into the postseason on an up note, but Horizon was a tough matchup to end the regular season. BHS hung tough for most of the game and trailed by four with 1:35 left but the Hawks hit their free throws down the stretch.
Horizon also had one of the top post players in the Front Range League in Kaylie Rader, who had 20 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
"It was hard to stop her because we were mismatched down there," senior Lena Jaycox said. "She's way bigger and stronger than us."
She also has a soft shot and an array of post moves that were too much for the Panthers. Rader scored 10 of her team's 14 points in the second quarter when the Hawks turned a four-point deficit into a 24-21 lead at halftime.
A free throw by Maddie Gates tied it at 27 midway through the third but Horizon began pulling away. Rader hit three shots to push the lead to 37-29 early in the fourth before Vivi Gregorich's putback got Boulder within 39-35. They couldn't get any closer.
"We were right there. I could feel that run coming and it never quite materialized," Burgin said. "We usually put on a run but it never came."
Now they'll find out their fate Sunday when the Class 5A playoff bracket is announced. For the Panthers it's a fresh start and a chance to surprise some people.
"Going into playoffs everyone's 0-0 so it's a new start," Jaycox said. "We all have a high confidence that we'll do well in the playoffs if we play our game. There's basically no one in the state that can beat us if we play our game."
Horizon 49, Boulder 38
At Boulder HS
HORIZON (16-7, 13-3)
K Rader 8 4-8 20, Bennett 4 4-4 13, Rasmussen 1 6-8 8, Jimenez 0 5-7 7, A. Rader 1 1-2 3, Chand 0 0-1 0. Totals 14 20-30 49.
BOULDER (13-10, 8-8)
Burns 2 3-4 8, Gregorich 2 2-2 7, Alexander 3 0-1 6, Jaycox 1 2-2 5, Dawson 2 0-0 4, Szarmach 0-2 3, Van Bussman 0 2-2 2, Aschbacher 0 2-2 2, Gates 0 1-1 1 . Totals 11 12-15 38.
Score by quarters:
Horizon 10 14 11 14 -- 49
Boulder 12 9 8 9 -- 38
3-point field goals -- Horizon (1): Bennett; Boulder (4): Burns, Jaycox, Szarmach, Gregorich. Total fouls -- Horizon 15, Boulder 21. Fouled out -- Burns. Technical fouls -- None.