BOULDER — Both head coaches emerged from their locker rooms shaking their heads Friday after Fairview beat Boulder 47-39 in boys basketball at the Coors Events Center.
Fairview coach Frank Lee was relieved his team finally decided to execute its game plan 20 minutes in after falling behind by 10 points. Boulder coach Eric Eisenhard was frustrated that his team inexplicably stopped doing what had allowed it to take control against its crosstown rival.
Fairview extended its winning streak to 10 games — the streak started with a win over Boulder on Jan. 19 — and gained bragging rights over the Panthers with a season sweep. The Knights also maintained their one-game lead on two teams in the Class 5A Front Range League with two games remaining in the regular season.
Boulder came in with a plan to slow the pace of the game with deliberate possessions on offense designed to frustrate the Knights. They executed it well in the first half taking their time and finding the open man.
That man more often than not proved to be sophomore Garrett Turner who scored 15 of the Panthers’ first 19 points. Turned led his team to a four-point halftime advantage.
It was during halftime that Fairview senior Brent Wrapp volunteered to guard Turner in the second half, a move that helped change the game.
Wrapp prevented Turner from scoring after the intermission and became more aggressive on the offensive end in the fourth quarter, helping lead his team back from a 10-point deficit. He led the Knights with 19 points.
“I just did my best to shut him down in the second half,” Wrapp said. “I did a pretty good job. I don’t think he scored in the second half, but he’s a good player. You’ve got to give him his credit.”
But winning wasn’t as simple as stopping Turner for the Knights. They received a little help from the Panthers, who strayed from what had been working at the midway point of the third quarter once they had gone up by 10 thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from Jonah Charnick.
The Panthers started trying to make plays individually and fell into a 61/2-minute scoreless drought that opened the door for Fairview’s comeback.
“We controlled it for 20 minutes, and then the last 12 … ,” Eisenhard said pausing and shaking his head. “The last 12 we for some reason stopped doing what was completely and totally effective for the first 20. For no reason.”
This is how effective Boulder was in executing in those first 20 minutes. Fairview was averaging more than 65 points a game, but midway through the third quarter had managed to score only 19.
“One of the things that frustrated us for 21/2 quarters is I thought coach Eisenhard did a great job of having his kids orchestrated so that they used the clock and they got good shots and they were very aggressive on the offensive boards,” Fairview coach Frank Lee said. “We’d come down with a pass or no passes and throw something up. If we’re on the break, we’re OK with that, but we were very impatient offensively.
“From the time that we were 10 down, we were much more patient offensively.”
Wrapp and fellow senior Austin Sparks took over offensively, combining to score 15 of the Knights’ 17 points in the fourth quarter. Sparks finished with 17.
“I think it was just the defensive pressure,” Wrapp said. “I mean, we always say our defense feeds our offense and I thought it did that tonight pretty well.”
Boulder hasn’t won more than three games in a row since winning the first four games of its season. But the Panthers feel like they’re capable of putting a run together in the state playoffs if they can execute for a full 32 minutes.
“I think we kind of lost our intensity a little bit,” said Charnick, who scored 10 for Boulder. “We started playing beyond ourselves like out of our comfort zones. We forced a little too much on offense. We turned it over. They started to get on a little bit of a roll and started knocking down the shots that they usually make.
“They came back and we didn’t respond.”
Lee’s Knights figure to be a high seed once again in the state tournament this year and he suspects a team or two might try to use the same game plan against them come tournament time. He said he was happy to see his players respond to the slow-it-down strategy Friday and overcome it.
Eisenhard said his players have done everything he has asked them to do all season and he recognizes the challenge of trying to convince 16 and 17 year olds to play with poise and patience for an entire game.
“I think it’s difficult for them to execute it against the emotion of the game,” Eisenhard said. “Our kids buy in to whatever I ask them to do. What’s hard is to be able to go out there and have the self discipline or the emotional discipline for high school kids to be able to execute that for 32 minutes against a little bit of adversity and the crowd and the momentum changes.”
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Fairview 47, Boulder 39
At Coors Events Center
FAIRVIEW (18-3, 13-1)
Wrapp 6 7-8 19, Tierney 2 2-2 7, McQueeney 1 0-0 2, Sparks 6 5-5 17, MacKenzie 0 0-2 0, Martin 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 14-17 47.
BOULDER (13-8, 7-7)
Turner 4 5-5 15, Rodriguez 2 2-2 6, Bohm 0 2-3 2, Charnick 3 2-2 10, VanLieshout 0 0-2 0, Szarmach 2 0-0 6. Totals 11 11-14 39.
Score by quarters:
Fairview 7 10 13 17 — 47
Boulder 8 13 8 10 — 39
3-point field goals — Fairview (1): Tierney; Boulder (6): Turner 2, Charnick 2, Szarmach 2. Total fouls — Fairview 16, Boulder 16. Fouled out — Boulder: Charnick. Technical fouls — None.