BOULDER — The senior class for the Fairview Knights have not lost on the court to the Boulder Panthers in their high school careers, but that was in jeopardy most of the night Thursday.
Behind a big comeback effort in the second half, however, the Knights pulled off the 50-45 win to end the regular season at the CU Events Center.
"All season we've been struggling to win some games, but it means so a lot to come out and win this one," Fairview's Kate Lampert said. "We really played together as a team and all contributed in this one."
The Knights scored the first three points of the game with Kalliyan Gurmendi hitting a 3-pointer, but saw that lead erased quickly by Boulder. The Panthers would extend the lead with their 3-point shooting, led by Abbie Gillach who was 4-of-5 from behind the arc in the first half.
Add in the eight points from Skye Reich in the paint, and Boulder went up by as many as 14 late in the second quarter before taking a 31-22 lead into the halftime break.
"In the first half, our defense was too far off shooters," Fairview coach Randy Earl said. "We weren't getting up in their shots."
Fairview keyed in on Gillach and prevented her from making any shots from 3-point range in the second half. Without her scoring from deep, the Panthers were forced to try and attack inside, but that didn't prove much better. Boulder would be held to 19 points in the second half.
With the BHS offense held in check, it was up to Fairview to find the offense it needed for the comeback. Izzy Munson gave the team new life in the third with six points and two assists that helped the Knights cut the lead down to five. Where the Knights made up the most ground, however, came at the foul line with 24 free throw attempts compared to the 20 the Panthers had.
Lampert and Kailey Page combined for 13 free throws in the game, and important free throws late from Munson and Adaya Richmond helped complete the comeback.
"We realized if we pushed the ball up and put some pressure on (Boulder), we would get some fouls called," Lampert said. "Then we were able to settle down and make those when they count."
Shooting 58 percent from the free throw line this season, the Knights on Thursday hit 16 free throws for a 67 percent clip in the win over Boulder.
"We hit just about every one," Earl said of the free throws.
Page and Munson finished with 14 and Lampert had 13 in the win for Fairview. Six players scored for the Knights in the win. The Panthers were led by Gillach with 15 and Reich with 11 as eight different players scored.
Capping the season with a rivalry win was a bright spot for the Knights to close the regular season after a trying campaign compared to previous years.
"As a senior, it's been an up-and-down season, but it doesn't even really matter when you come out and get a win like this to end the season," Lampert said. "Boulder is a huge game, no matter how everyone's season is going."
Their season most likely will continue as a lower seed in the CHSAA Class 5A state basketball tournament next week. Entering the game ranked No. 46 in the RPI standings, the Knights would be one of the final teams to sneak into the 48-team field. Despite the odds, they feel confident in their ability to pull off an upset win in the first round next week.
"Looking at some of those teams in the area where we might play, we've played with those teams," Earl said. "We've been ahead of those teams, so I feel pretty good about that."
Boulder may also get in as a lower seed for the state tournament as they entered Thursday's game ranked No. 45 in the RPI standings. The state brackets are expected to be released from CHSAA on Sunday.
Fairview 50, Boulder 45
At CU Events Center
FAIRVIEW (6-17, 4-8)
Izzy Munson 6 2-3 14, Kailey Page 3 8-9 14, Kate Lampert 4 5-10 13, Kalliyan Gurmendi 2 0-0 6, Zoe Callicoatt 1 0-0 2, Adaya Richmond 0 1-2 1. Totals 16 16-24 50.
BOULDER (9-14, 2-10)
Abbie Gillach 4 3-4 15, Skye Reich 5 0-0 11, Jessi Hunter 2 1-2 5, Reilly Madden 2 0-0 4, Grace Chow 1 0-0 3, Emma Bagley 0 3-4 3, Ella Bartsch 1 0-0 2, Tessa Vanbussum 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 7-10 45.
Score by quarters:Fairview 9 13 17 16 — 50
3-point field goals — Fairview (2): Gurmendi 2; Boulder (6): Gillach 4, Chow, Reich. Total fouls — Fairview 13, Boulder 20. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.