BOULDER — The odds were heavily stacked against the Boulder girls basketball team Tuesday night.
The Panthers fell behind 13-0 to start the game, trailed by 10 a couple minutes into the fourth quarter, and never led until the final 11 seconds of the contest.
But that just made the outcome that much sweeter.
Boulder scored the final nine points on its home court to cap a big comeback and defeat No. 7-ranked Horizon 54-51 in the Front Range League opener for both teams.
“We just had the heart to win,” said BHS point guard Lena Jaycox, a transfer from Mountain Vista who scored a game-high 24 points. “We would come back and tie it, and our intensity would go down. But we knew we wanted to win the game, so we just kept fighting back. It was an intense game.”
After rallying from a slow start to tie the score at 26, 31 and 33, Boulder fell behind 48-38 early in the final quarter. But the never-say-die Panthers used 10 fourth-period points from Courtney Van Bussum and eight from Jaycox to reel in the Hawks, who went scoreless the final 4:11 of the game.
BHS center Ande Lampert, who came off the bench after nursing a knee injury the last 21/2 weeks, hit two free throws to tie the contest at 51 with 2:13 left. Then after the teams exchanged turnovers, Jaycox stole a pass and fed Van Bussum for a fastbreak layup with 11 seconds remaining to put BHS up 53-51.
Horizon turned over the ball two more times down the stretch and Van Bussum nailed a free throw to account for the final margin.
“We worked really hard to get tied, then we just relaxed for some reason,” said Lampert, a University of Pacific signee. “Then it was like, ‘We’ve got to get back up.’ And in the final 10 seconds, we realized we could win this, so it was, ‘Let’s go. Let’s get this done.'”
The victory lifted Boulder to 4-3, while Horizon dropped to 5-3.
A turning point in the final surge was Horizon’s standout center, Kaylie Rader, fouling out with 3:02 remaining and the Hawks up by three. Rader had scored 21 points.
“Obviously, she had a bunch of points on us and she was a dominant force in the paint,” said Lampert, who was effective defensively when she was matched up with Rader. “Getting her out was a key. I went into this game thinking we needed to get her out because she’ll hurt us — and she did. Getting her her fifth foul really gave us that edge and let us attack them.”
Also helping the BHS cause was Horizon shooting just 6-for-14 from the free throw line.
The win was the highlight of the season so far for first-year Boulder coach Chris Mischke. While the Panthers hardly played a great game — they turned the ball over 14 times in the first half and shot 38.6 percent from the field overall — they scratched and clawed even when the situation looked hopeless.
“To me that’s as mentally tough of a win as we’ve had,” he said. “That’s something every coach is looking for. We didn’t play well, but we won. I couldn’t be happier from that respect.”
Jaycox certainly did her part to keep Boulder in the contest. Included in her 24 points were four moon-ball 3-pointers.
“Just the way the game played out, it ranked high up there on the ‘good game’ scale,” said Jaycox, who fell five points shy of her career high in point production.
Boulder will return to action with Friday’s 6:30 p.m. game at Legacy.
Boulder 54, Horizon 51
At Boulder HS
HORIZON (5-3, 0-1)
Ramos 3 3-4 10, Rasmussen 0 0-2 0, Jimenez 1 0-0 3, Dyer 4 1-2 10, K. Rader 10 1-4 21, A. Rader 2 1-2 5, Paplow 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 6-14 51.
BOULDER (4-3, 1-0)
Burns 2 3-4 7, Gates 0 0-0 0, Dawson 0 0-2 0, Aschbacher 1 0-0 2, Jaycox 7 6-8 24, Gregorich 0 0-0 0, Van Bussum 4 2-3 10, Szarmach 1 0-0 3, Lampert 2 4-6 8. Totals 17 15-23 54.
Score by quarters:
Horizon 16 10 15 10 — 51
Boulder 9 10 14 21 — 54
3-point field goals — Horizon (3): Ramos, Dyer, Jimenez; Boulder (5): Jaycox 4, Szarmach. Total fouls — Horizon 17, Boulder 14. Fouled out — K. Rader. Technical fouls — none.