BOULDER — With 10 seconds left and Demetrius Kennedy at the free-throw line putting the finishing touches on a much-needed win, Boulder coach Eric Eisenhard went down his bench slapping hands with players and coaches.
It had been a long time since he was able to celebrate with his squad. The Panthers’ 54-47 win over Mountain Range on Friday snapped their six-game skid and, more importantly, gives them life in their drive for a spot in the Class 5A playoffs.
“I think it keeps us alive,” Eisenhard said. “Obviously the playoff berth is out of our control, but in the past nine wins gets you in. We have three games left and we’re sitting at seven wins.”
The seventh win appeared locked up until the final period after Alex King’s basket with 37 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Panthers a 16-point lead. But Boulder went 7:24 without a field goal, the Mustangs went on a 17-2 run and suddenly it was 48-47 with 1:29 left in the game.
“It was a little nerve-wracking but we knew we could pull it out,” King said.
The Panthers (7-13, 4-9 Front Range League) did pull it out thanks to a career night by King. He scored a game-high 23 points, 14 in the second half, to help Boulder build a 46-30 lead.
“I haven’t had many games like this but I knew I was capable of doing this” he said. “I felt good today. I had anything I wanted on the drive. Just one of those days.”
His biggest play, however, came on defense. After his basket made it 50-47 with 1:13 left, he stepped into the lane and drew a charge on Mountain Range’s Damian Rowland. He then hit a free throw to give Boulder a four-point lead with 34 seconds left.
“He was huge,” Eisenhard said. “A senior stepped up on senior night.”
King scored eight points in the third quarter alone — or one more than the teams combined for in the second. With just under five minutes left Mountain Range was content to let Boulder dribble off all but 20 seconds of the clock before running a play. Neither team scored in the final 5:15 of the first half.
The Panthers won’t get long to enjoy this win. They play Horizon at 3:30 p.m. Saturday to make up last week’s game postponed by the snowstorm. They finish the season at Monarch on Tuesday and against Fairview at the Coors Events Center on Feb. 17.
“We’ve just got to keep it rolling,” King said. “If we win nine we’re probably in the playoffs. We have three more games, two more winnable games, and we have Fairview, our cross-town rival.”
Boulder 54, Mountain Range 47
At Boulder HS
Logan Tanner 4 0-0 11, Damian Rowland 3 3-5 11, Jacob Taylor 4 1-3 9, Landon Staab 2 2-2 6, Tanner Waufle 2 0-0 4, Austin Quaratino 1 0-0 3, Deion Atencio 1 0-0 3. Totals 17 6-10 47.
Alex King 9 5-8 23, Will Grubb 4 3-4 11, Demetrius Kennedy 3 3-4 9, Marc Krimstock 3 0-0 8, Bryce Waldman 1 0-0 2, Austin Williams 0 1-2 1, Jack Huettel 0 0-2 0. Totals 20 12-20 54.
Score by quarters:
Mountain Range 15 4 13 15 — 47
Boulder 24 3 19 8 — 54
3-point field goals — Mountain Range (7): Tanner 3, Rowland 2, Quaratino, Atencio; Boulder (2): Krimstock 2. Total fouls — Mountain Range 15, Boulder 17. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.