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HIGHLANDS RANCH — The Fairview boys basketball team’s game plan against ThunderRidge worked almost perfectly in the first half Friday night.

The Knights bottled up 6-foot-9 Kaileb Rodriguez and 6-7 Kendyl Grover, holding them to a combined 10 points at the break.

“We didn’t want them to get any inside touches because we know they’re good and they’re big and really athletic,” Fairview’s Jacob Lorentzen said.

The Grizzlies found the counter in the second half — the long ball. ThunderRidge hit seven 3-pointers in the third and fourth quarters and pulled away for a 70-55 win in the Knights’ season opener.

“This is the first game; we’ll come back,” Holden Killeen said.

They almost came back against ThunderRidge. The Grizzlies led by two at halftime but started the third with two 3-pointers from Joe Marucci, and they pushed the lead to 43-30 on Ryan Arnold’s 3 with 3:20 left in the period.

“They were shooting lights out in the third quarter,” Killeen said. “We came out a little flat and they stuck everything. It really put us down and we dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of.”

Being at full strength would have helped. Fairview played without senior Shane O’Neill, who is playing in the Winter Showcase Soccer Tournament in Sarasota, Fla.

Despite being shorthanded, the Knights hung tough with a team that has five players listed at 6-4 or taller. They frustrated the big men early, but when the Grizzlies’ outside shots started to fall things opened up underneath.

“They forced the ball in at first but they started to settle down and they waited for their moment to get it inside,” Lorentzen said. “The big guys stopped getting frustrated and started scoring.”

A 3 by Grover to start the fourth made it 50-35 but a fast-break dunk and a 3-point play by Jay Arehart made it 58-50 with 3:39 left. Another 3 pushed the lead to 11 and the Grizzlies pulled away.

“I think we had some bright spots,” coach Frank Lee said. “When they got it to 15 there were a couple of times we brought it to eight and had good possessions. Who knows if you get it to six or four?”

The Knights know going against a tough team early will only pay dividends down the road.

“I think our kids for our first night out played really, really well,” Lee said. “When we get full strength we’ll be alright.”

ThunderRidge 70, Fairview 55

At ThunderRidge HS

FAIRVIEW (0-1)

Killeen 3 4-4 12, Lorentzen 4 3-9 11, Pykkonen 4 0-0 8, Arehart 3 1-1 7, Wrapp 1 3-4 5, McQueeny 1 3-4 5, Farone-Collins 2 0-0 4, Crespi 1 1-1 3. Totals 19 15-23 55.

THUNDERRIDGE (2-0)

Arnold 4 4-4 15, Grover 4 4-5 13, Marucci 4 3-5 13, Rusk 2 6-8 10, Rodriguez 3 2-7 8, O’Neill 2 0-0 6, Barnes 1 0-0 3, Howell 0 2-2 2. Totals 20 21-31 70.

Score by quarters:

Fairview 12 12 11 20 — 55

ThunderRidge 6 20 21 23 — 70

3-point field goals — Fairview (2): Killeen 2; ThunderRidge (9): Arnold, Marucci 2, O’Neill 2, Grover, Barnes. Total fouls — Fairview 25, ThunderRidge 19. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.