BOULDER — Monarch girls basketball coach Gail Hook simply chalked up Tuesday to an off night for her third-ranked Coyotes. Senior guard Ashton Davis admitted the Coyotes might have been peeking ahead to a league title showdown with Legacy on Friday.
Whatever the case, MHS had to earn its victory over a struggling Boulder squad to the very end.
The Coyotes won 56-48 on the road despite a 21-point first-half effort by BHS point guard Lena Jaycox that had the Panthers smelling upset.
The triumph improved Monarch to 17-5 overall and 13-2 in Front Range League play. Legacy (19-3) is also 13-2 in the FRL and will visit MHS in Friday’s regular-season finale.
Davis said Tuesday’s game could end up serving as a timely wake-up call for the Coyotes, who had been blowing out just about everyone during their current seven-game win streak.
“I think that’s our weakness sometimes is we think we’re in a good situation and (relax),” Davis said. “Hopefully we’ll go out hard against Legacy for four quarters and play all the way through.”
The Coyotes looked like they’d run away from Boulder (8-13, 5-10) early, scoring the first eight points of the game. But thanks to Jaycox’s big night, the Coyotes never completely pulled away.
They led by just five with 2:48 to play in the game before two free throws by Davis and a steal and layup by Rebecca Richmond gave them a nine-point edge.
The Coyotes drained 12 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to help ice the win.
“We didn’t play well,” Hook said. “Our decision making wasn’t good. But we did what we needed to do to win. I can’t look at this too much. It was just one of those things.”
Jaycox put on a show in the first half, scoring Boulder’s first 16 points and pulling the Panthers to within one, 27-26, at halftime on a trio of free throws.
The only problem was the rest of the Panthers mustered just five first-half points, and when the Coyotes locked down on Jaycox in the second half BHS couldn’t quite keep pace.
The Panthers were without injured 6-foot-4 center Ande Lampert — their second leading scorer and leading rebounder — for the eighth game in a row due to a knee injury.
Jaycox managed nine points in the second half to finish with a season-high 30 points. But few shots came easily after the intermission.
“We decided to do a box and one on her, and I stuck on her,” said Davis, an Air Force Academy recruit. “That was pretty much my job the whole second half to make sure she either didn’t shoot or didn’t touch the ball at all.”
April Dawson was Boulder’s next leading scorer at six points.
Monarch, meanwhile, was its well-rounded self. Forward Alexus Johnson scored 18 points and grabbed 10 boards to lead the way as usual. But Davis chipped in 10 points and eight boards, and Richmond added 14 points.
Even when shots weren’t falling in the first half, the Coyotes were out-hustling Boulder to loose balls, hurting the Panthers with several offensive rebounds.
“Good teams don’t play well on every single night, and they did what they had to do,” said first-year BHS coach Chris Mischke, a former Monarch boys assistant. “They have a great team over there, and they played hard.”
Monarch 56, Boulder 48
At Boulder HS
MONARCH (17-5, 13-2)
Richmond 3 7-8 14, Stimac 0 0-0 0, Davis 2 6-6 10, Rohn 2 1-1 5, Malcolm-Peck 0 0-0 0, Eisler 2 0-0 5. Williams 0 4-4 4, Johnson 8 2-6 18. Totals 17 20-25 56.
BOULDER (8-13, 5-10)
Gates 1 0-0 2, Van Bussum 1 1-2 3, Dawson 1 4-4 6, Szarmach 1 2-3 5, Alexander 0 0-0 0, Aschbacher 1 0-0 2, Jaycox 7 11-16 30, Trainer 0 0-0 0, Lampert 0 0-0 0, Mertes 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 18-25 48.
Score by quarters:
Monarch 19 8 13 16 — 56
Boulder 8 18 6 16 — 48
3-point field goals — Monarch (2): Richmond, Eisler; Boulder (6): Jaycox 5, Szarmach. Total fouls — Monarch 20, Boulder 16. Fouled out — None. Technicals — None.