WESTMINSTER — First-year head coach Emily Glen knew the challenges she would face taking over the Boulder girls basketball program. Tasked with rebuilding a five-win team last season, she has seen plenty of promise this year with seven wins and new-found passion from her team.
"My girls played really well and played with passion," Glen said. "They pushed and played with intensity. It's hard to beat a team that never gives up. That's something we talk about with them."
That passion was on display Tuesday night as they challenged the Mountain Range Mustangs (13-5, 5-1) to a close game late in the fourth quarter. In a battle of scoring runs, Mountain Range made the final run late to get the 58-49 win on its home floor.
Despite losing their fifth straight game in Front Range League play, Glen sees plenty of positives for her team to build on as they continue to get the program up to a high level of success.
"The game was a good game," Glen said. "It was fun to coach and it was fun to watch the girls play."
Abbie Gillach hit a couple shots early to keep the Panthers (7-9, 0-5) close in the first quarter with a Mustangs team that made a living in the paint on offense. Ella Bartsch gave Boulder the lead in the second quarter with a layup as the game remained close. The Panthers would keep the lead until Ashleigh Hinds made a 3-point shot at the buzzer to put the Mustangs up 23-21.
Back and forth the two teams went with scoring run after scoring run in the second half. Skye Reich converted early to start a 6-0 run that began the second half and put the Panthers back in front, only to be answered by Mountain Range with its own run to go up by eight late in the third. Free throws and a layup from Emma Bagley finished the quarter on a 6-0 run to put Boulder down two going into the fourth quarter.
When Mountain Range followed with another run to start the fourth, the Mustangs prevented the Panthers from answering to get back in the game. The lead stretched to nine midway through the fourth and remained with the Mustangs the rest of the game.
"(Mountain Range) would go on a run and we would have to adjust, then we would go on a run and they would have to adjust," Glen said. "They went on the last run and we ran out of time to go on our run late."
Late free throws and timely defense from the Mustangs made the difference.
Gillach and Bagley led the Panthers with 14 points each and Reich finished with 10. Hinds and Lillian West finished with 14 points each for the Mustangs in the win.
The loss sees BHS' season-high losing streak continue, but pushing a 12-win team down the stretch in the fourth quarter is a performance Glen believes shows her team's improvement in just her first season in Boulder.
"I told my girls in the locker room that I was very proud of them," Glen said. "They made (Mountain Range) work for this win tonight. They are a good team and we played them well. I think that definitely shows we're going in the right direction."
A road trip to Fort Collins to face the Poudre Impalas will give the Panthers a good chance to get back in the win column and snap the losing streak. Wins and losses, however, are not the sole focus for Glen and her staff this season, instead focusing on development and pushing the team in the right direction.
"If they lose a game, rather than beat them down, I'm going to build them up and we're going to move forward rather than festering on it," Glen said.
Mountain Range 58, Boulder 49
At Mountain Range HS
BOULDER (7-9, 0-5)
Abbie Gillach 5 2-2 14, Emma Bagley 6 2-4 14, Skye Reich 3 4-4 10, Grace Chow 3 3-6 9, Ella Bartsch 1 0-2 2. Totals 18 11-18 49.
MOUNTAIN RANGE (13-5, 5-1)
Lillian West 4 4-4 14, Ashleigh Hinds 5 3-7 14, Anna Giampietro 5 0-0 11, Hannah Chavez 5 0-1 10, Allis Brich 1 3-4 5, Millie Alvarado 1 2-2 4. Totals 22 12-18 58.
Score by quarters:Boulder (7-9, 0-5) 11 10 16 12 — 49
3-point field goals — Boulder(2): Gillach 2; Mountain Range(2): Giampietro, Hinds. Total fouls — Boulder 15, Mountain Range 15.