LOUISVILLE — Another Friday night and another clutch free throw for the Monarch Coyotes.
Last week, Wes Moon sank a foul shot in the last minute to beat Boulder, and Friday night it was Nathan Brooks’ turn.
The senior hit 1 of 2 free throws with 5.7 seconds left, and then the Coyotes forced an off-balance jumper at the buzzer to escape with a 43-42 win over Fort Collins.
“Wes did it against Boulder so I thought I owed him one,” Brooks said. “We played hard in the fourth quarter and I just wanted to give my team what it deserved.”
It was the Coyotes’ fourth straight win and second straight week with a nail-biting finish in Front Range League play.
The Coyotes (8-6, 5-2) had to rally to win this one. They matched the Lambkins’ grind-it-out style but trailed 42-36 with 4:50 left.
But they stiffened defensively and got four big points from Ben Beauchamp to tie it with 2:48 left.
“We were focused in on playing defense,” said Dan Sorenson, who led Monarch with 12 points and had a key steal and assist to Beauchamp on the tying basket. “It came down to who wanted it more.”
It also came down to patience.
With 2 minutes left and the game tied, Beauchamp held the ball at the point and waited for the defense to pressure him. Instead, Fort Collins let him stand there as 90 seconds elapsed before Monarch coach Ken Niven called a timeout.
“If they weren’t going to pressure us we were going to take the last shot,” Niven said. “If they let you do that, it’s a no-brainer.”
After the timeout, Brooks let the clock run down to 10 seconds before putting it on the floor and driving to the bucket.
He was looking to draw the defense and dish for a layup but instead Will Duggan was called for the foul.
Brooks calmly stepped to the line and hit the front end of a one-and-one to give Monarch the lead.
Fort Collins called timeout to set up the final play. Chase Thurgood got off a shot before the horn but it hit the front of the rim and the Coyotes celebrated.
“We wanted to try to make him catch and turn,” Niven said. “He got a little deeper than I would have liked, but we did for a running jumper from 19 feet. We did a pretty good job on that.”
More important, the Coyotes have momentum heading into the last month of the season.
“We’re fighting for a home game in the playoffs and it helps to pull out wins like these,” Brooks said.
Monarch 43, Fort Collins 42
FORT COLLINS (42)
Chase Thurgood 5 0-0 13, Will Duggan 3 4-5 12, Derek Dietrich 4 2-2 10, Austin Hunt 2 2-2 6, Ryan French 0 1-2 1. Totals 14 9-11 42.
Dan Sorenson 5 2-2 12, Nathan Brooks 2 3-4 7, Ben Beauchamp 2 3-4 7, Alex Krason 3 0-0 7, Wes Moon 2 0-0 4, Hank Yen 1 0-0 3, Kyle Billingsley 1 0-0 3. Totals 16 8-10 43.
Score by quarters:
Fort Collins 11 11 13 7 — 42
Monarch 15 8 9 11 — 43
3-point field goals — Fort Collins (5): Thurgood 3, Duggan 2; Monarch (3): Yen, Billingsly, Krason. Total fouls — Fort Collins 13, Monarch 13. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.