BOULDER — Emily Glen's first year at the helm of the girls basketball team at Boulder has given hope of brighter days ahead. The final regular season home game for the four seniors, meanwhile, may serve as something of a reminder of how a new era began.
Grace Chow hit consecutive 3s in the third quarter and finished with 12 points in what is likely her final game at home, while fellow-senior Skye Reich scored eight of her 11 points in the opening minutes, helping the Panthers race out to a quick lead before holding on in a 48-41 victory over Greeley West on what was Senior Night Tuesday.
"Tonight, was really important," Glen said. "Just to be able to recognize the seniors tonight and everything they've put into this program I think was huge — just everything they've helped (do) to build this program to where we are now and what we hope it to be in the coming future."
Sophomore Abbie Gillach added four of her 12 points in the fourth quarter to hold off the Spartans and keep the Panthers' postseason hopes very much alive.
Boulder (9-13, 2-9 5A Front Range League) will end the regular season against Fairview at the CU Events Center on Thursday night. The Panthers, who were ranked No. 46 in Class 5A RPI coming into the night, and Knights, 45th, are on the bubble of clinching a spot in the 48-team postseason field.
Boulder hasn't made the playoffs since the 2015-16 season.
"I definitely think about it all the time because I haven't been to the playoffs since my freshman year," Chow said. "I told all my teammates before the last two games, like, 'you guys, we're closing in'."
Fellow-seniors Reilly Madden had three points and Jessi Hunter added two, and each of the four seniors had a bucket in the opening frame to put the Panthers ahead early.
Prior to tip-off, the seniors were given gift baskets, athletic bags and were brought to midcourt. Their younger teammates then toasted their athletic careers and friendships over the loud speaker.
"It was awesome," Reich said. "It's kind of like the 'passing of the torch' to the younger generation."
In front of their home fans, they went out in style. Even if it came with a bit of drama.
The Spartans (5-17, 0-11) carved into a 13-point deficit in the early minutes of the fourth, pulling within 40-38 on Jay Aragon's 3 with 4:23 remaining. But Boulder never relinquished the lead — thanks to some late defensive stands, including a crucial charge taken by Reich.
Holding a slim lead, the Panthers salted the game away with six free throws in the final 2:15.
Earlier, Boulder built a nice lead thanks in part to Reich, who made a series of other nice defensive plays and scored a quick four baskets to push the lead to 14-4. In the final 28 seconds of the half, Chow rattled in a bucket and freshman Mandiza Krueger had a 3-point play to extend the lead to 29-17.
Then in the third, Chow hit back-to-back shots from deep to end Greeley West's 5-0 run. At the buzzer, Emma Bagley hit another from deep for the team's fourth 3 of the night.
The Panthers can clinch win No. 10 of the season with a victory Thursday. More importantly, they could add some cushion to their postseason hopes with a win over a rival.
"Getting this one under our belt tonight helps, but we know we still have Fairview Thursday," Glen said. "And we have to go in strong and ready because that can make a difference in our RPI. Our goal is definitely making the playoffs."
Brent W. New: firstname.lastname@example.org and @brentwnew
Boulder 48, Greeley West 41
At Boulder HS
GREELEY WEST (5-17, 0-11)
Garcia 1 0-0 2, Sepeda 3 5-8 12, Roberts 0 0-0 0, Ruiz 2 2-3 6, Aragon 3 3-6 11, Zamora 3 3-5 9, Connell 0 0-0 0, Mendez 0 0-0 0, Aguirre 0 1-3 1. Team 12 14-25 41.
BOULDER (9-13, 2-9)
Gillach 4 3-3 12, Van Bussum 1 0-0 2, Madden 0 3-5 3, Chow 4 2-2 12, Bartsch 0 0-1 0, Bagley 1 0-3 3, Krueger 1 1-1 3, Hunter 1 0-0 2, Reich 5 1-2 11, Vieth 0 0-0 0, Rocha 0 0-0 0, Weygandt 0 0-0 0. Team 17 10-17 48.
Score by quarters:Greeley West 10 7 8 16 — 41
3-point field goals — Greeley West (3): Aragon 2, Sepeda; Boulder (4): Chow 2, Gillach, Bagley. Total fouls — Greeley West 23, Boulder 19. Fouled out — Greeley West: Ruiz, Aragon. Technical fouls — Greeley West: Sepeda; Boulder: Bartsch.