Lena Haddad put four years into the Fairview girls basketball program for a night like Friday.
The senior has been one of the most dedicated girls to Rod Beauchamp's program, but when it comes to the annual rivalry game against Boulder at the Coors Events Center the 2017 version was the first time she had gotten a chance to be on the court.
A first-time varsity player, Haddad was anticipating all week the chance to get some key minutes — something that has developed over the course of the season — and she didn't let herself down in FHS' 77-33 win over the Panthers.
As Fairview started to pull away in the second half of the spacious arena, Haddad was as comfortable with the environment as she's ever been, and she finished with 10 points and four rebounds in the team's 14th win of the season.
It was a night where Ashley Panem and Denali Pinto thrived as usual but one that Fairview could celebrate as they got a field goal from every player and shot over 50 percent from the field as a team.
"I was really excited because I've been playing with all these people for four years, and just have been a part of the program for so long that it made for such a fun night," Haddad said. "I've always been (at Coors) to support the varsity, but I always dreamed about getting to play in it.
"It was definitely one of my better games, but we had a lot of plays going and we played really well together."
Beauchamp said that Haddad has been earning her keep, and the Friday production was ultimately a microcosm of what she has been doing the past few weeks to help keep Fairview rolling in the Front Range League (now 6-1).
"Lena has recently been kind of our sixth man and coming off the bench and contributing quite a bit, and this is someone, we talked at the beginning of the season and I told her I wasn't sure that she'd get to play that many minutes," Beauchamp said of Haddad, who scored seven points in the third quarter. "But she's worked hard to get that spot and we need that relief of our guards. She's done a great job of that."
Fresh off a monumental win at Fort Collins on Tuesday, the Knights played at break-neck speed throughout the contest to surpass 70 points for the fourth time this season.
Pinto, one of the targets that every team has learned must be stopped if they want to succeed, made her first six shots of the game spilling into the third quarter, and she added seven rebounds. Back to back 3-pointers from Pinto in the opening minutes of the second quarter put FHS ahead 20-7, and she didn't slow down much on her way to 20 points.
Panem was also in a zone on the college court — and as a Division I prospect she looked right in place with 15 first-half points. She finished with 23 points on 10 of 15 shooting.
But Fairview's team did the work to get the win.
"Coach tries to (encourage) everyone to shoot, and I think that just shows what kind of team we are," Haddad said. "We want to include everyone."
It may have been another tough game to swallow for Boulder (4-13, 1-5) as far as the outcome, but sophomore Grace Chow said the Panthers are showing the small-step improvement that she thinks will keep Boulder going for awhile.
The Panthers did cut the FHS lead to 22-14 with 4 minutes, 50 seconds to go in the second quarter before a 16-2 run to finish out the half for the Knights solidified the eventual outcome.
The half-court offense was effective, but Fairview's full court pressure and not being able to break the press functionally and consistently spelled troubles.
"We're becoming a much stronger team and we're really putting an emphasis on how everyone has a role, that everyone is important in the game," Chow said after finishing with 10 points. "We just need to realize that we are there to help each other out, and I think we're making a lot of progress."
Fairview 77, Boulder 33
At Coors Events Center
FAIRVIEW (15-3, 6-1)
Rios 1 0-0 2, Haddad 2 6-7 10, Pinto 7 3-3 20, Munson 2 0-1 4, O'Neill 4 3-4 12, Prostko 1 0-0 2, Panem 10 2-2 23, Lampert 1 0-0 2, 1 0-0 2. Totals 29 14-17 77.
BOULDER (4-13, 1-5)
Burke 0 0-0 0, Bagley 2 2-5 6, Chow 4 0-2 10, Aschbacher 0 0-0 0, McCarty 2 4-4 9, MacDonald 0 0-0 0, Arthur 0 0-0 0, Hunter 0 0-0 0, Burridge 1 6-6 8, Reich 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 12-17 33.
Score by quarters:Fairview 14 22 26 15 — 77
Boulder 4 12 7 10 — 33
3-point field goals — Fairview (5): Pinto 3, O'Neill, Panem; Boulder (3): Chow 2, McCarty.