With a marquee matchup three days away, the Fairview girls basketball team could have easily looked past Mountain Range on Tuesday night.
The Knights didn't, and they dominated from opening tip to the final buzzer in a 63-19 win. Now they can focus on fifth-ranked Horizon and see if their commitment on the defensive end will be a difference on Friday night.
"I feel we can match up with (Horizon) if we focus on defense," said senior Ashley Panem, who scored 15 points in the win over the Mustangs. "At the beginning of the year we didn't focus as much on that."
The commitment came after a 1-2 trip to Florida in December. The Fairview players knew if their goal of winning the Front Range League title was realistic, they had to bear down on the defensive end.
"That was one of our New Year's resolutions," Panem said. "It's league play now so that's one of those things we need to help our offense."
Mountain Range (7-6, 1-1) discovered Fairview was serious right away. The Knights (8-4, 2-0) pressed the Mustangs from the start, causing 14 turnovers in the first quarter and scoring the first 14 points of the period.
They kept it up in the second, holding Mountain Range to three field goals and only five in the first half.
Meanwhile, Panem and Izzy Munson provided the offense, combining for 19 points in the first two periods to help the Knights take a 37-10 halftime lead.
The lead was 40 after the third quarter, and only a running clock held Fairview's point total in the fourth to seven.
With Mountain Range out of the way the focus can switch to Horizon - and continue to be on defense. Coach Rod Beauchamp was pleased his players didn't look past the Mustangs on Tuesday.
"We can't overlook someone," he said. "I'm very happy that they weren't overlooking this game and looking to Horizon."
Horizon's size poses a matchup problem, but with the way the Knights played defense Tuesday they have a chance to pull off the upset.
"I still think we need to be better at defense at times but it is the focus," Beauchamp said. "When we were in Florida our defense wasn't very good so we've been preaching that a little more.
"We usually have a harder time when teams are a bit bigger than us, matching. That's going to be key for us, how can we matchup and continue to play good defense against a bigger lineup.
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Fairview 63, Mountain Range 19
West 4 0-0 8, Gustason 1 1-3 3, Giampietro 1 0-02, Hinds 1 0-0 2, Chavez 1 0-0 2, Alvarado 1 0-1 2. Totals 9 1-4 19.
Pinto 5 3-4 16, Panem 6 0-1 15, Lampert 2 6-8 10 Munson 5 0-0 10, Anderson 2 1-1 5, Konstantopoulos 2 0-0 4, Richmond 1 1-2 3. Totals 23 11-16 63..
Score by quarters:Mountain Range4663—19
3-point field goals — Mountain Range (0); Fairview (6): Pinto 3, Panem 3. Total fouls — Mountain Range 16, Fairview 12. Fouled out — Konstantopoulos.