LYONS — Heritage Christian joined the top 10 in the 2A state basketball rankings this week, but the Lyons boys threatened to make the Eagles’ early-season stay in the polls a brief one.
After trailing 23-9 in the first half and 35-22 in the third period Tuesday night, Lyons threw a scare into No. 10 Heritage Christian before falling 57-50 in the Lions’ home opener.
“I’m just proud of the guys,” said senior Justin Boldt, who led Lyons in scoring — just like he did during the football season. “They stuck it out. We came out in the second half and knew we had to hustle and stop them on defense, and we did just that.”
Heritage Christian, which improved to 4-0, won its first three games by an average of 37.7 while scoring 81 points per contest.
But the Lions slowed things down and, after finally heating up offensively after a very slow start, gave themselves a chance to win.
Boldt, who finished with 13 points, nailed a 3-pointer with 2:30 remaining to narrow the deficit to four. Then about 50 seconds later teammate Zach Christiansen banked in a trey to make it 53-50.
But that would be the last points Lyons would score, and Heritage Christian’s Joel Barerras and Matthew McKinley iced the game with two points each in the final minute.
The result avenged a close loss by Heritage Christian at the hands of Lyons in the district playoffs last season.
“The good thing about this one is we kind of got them to play our style,” LHS coach Travis Crispe said. “They came in averaging about 80 points per game, so our goal was to keep the pace slow, dictate on offense, hold it as long as we could and get good shots. It worked out in the end, with us having a chance there.”
The way Lyons started, it didn’t look like it would have much of a chance at all on Tuesday.
The Lions didn’t score in the first 41/2 minutes of the contest and finished the first half with 13 points while hitting just 4 of 19 field goal attempts and turning the ball over eight times.
But they flipped the switch after intermission, scoring 37 points to rally back into the game.
“I think the first half was more a mental game,” said Boldt, who hit three 3-pointers for Lyons overall. “Kids were a little stressed out. We were missing a lot of easy buckets and just rushing everything. In the second half we knew we had to slow it down and that’s when the shots started falling for us.”
Lyons, which hasn’t had a winning season since 2006-07, dropped to 1-4, but two of those losses have come to top-10 teams: Resurrection Christian (No. 5) and Heritage Christian (No. 10).
“As I told the kids after the game, ‘It’s a measuring stick.'” Crispe said. “We know where we have to be by the end of the season now. Those are both teams we’ll see in our district as soon as we hit the playoffs. We’re 1-4, but we’ve played the two toughest teams in our district.”
Lyons will wrap up the pre-Christmas portion of its schedule with a Friday game at Union Colony Prep in Greeley.
HERITAGE CHRISTIAN 57, LYONS 50
At Lyons HS
HERITAGE CHRISTIAN (4-0)
McGinley 5 4-6 15, Huebner 5 0-0 10, Hurley 4 0-1 9, Barerras 6 0-0 15, Niichel 2 2-2 6, Isabelle 0 0-0 0, Bowsher 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 6-9 57.
Poulsen 2 0-0 5, Christiansen 3 0-0 8, Boldt 4 2-2 13, Hinker 4 3-6 11, Falce 0 0-0 0, Fesenmeyer 1 1-2 3, Boucher 5 0-0 10. Totals 19 6-10 50.
Score by quarters:
Heritage Christian 11 14 17 15 — 57
Lyons 6 7 21 16 — 50
3-point field goals — Heritage Christian (5): Barerras 3, McGinley, Hurley; Lyons (6): Boldt 3, Christiansen 2, Poulsen. Total fouls — Heritage Christian 13, Lyons 12. Fouled out –none. Technical fouls — none.