LONGMONT — When the Frederick boys basketball team walked dejectedly off the floor following its previous meeting with Skyline, the Warriors were facing a season at a crossroads.
The loss Frederick suffered that night was its second in a row, leaving the club with a pedestrian 4-3 mark within the Tri-Valley League. And, as far as the Warriors were concerned, the defeat against Skyline never should have happened.
Then and there, Frederick decided it was time to turn its season around. That quest came to a triumphant conclusion on Tuesday, as the Warriors exacted revenge on Skyline with a 71-60 victory in the regular season finale for both teams.
Frederick secured the No. 2 seed out of the conference and will take an eight-game winning streak into the state tournament after the pairings are announced on Sunday.
“These kids have worked their tails off the last two years to get in this position,” said Frederick coach Larry Frank, whose club has not lost since it was stunned at home by Skyline on Jan. 25.
“We’re on a little run. We’ll see if we can keep it going in the playoffs.”
Having already topped Frederick once this season, Skyline came out of the gate as if it was the team angling for a top playoff seed and not a club whose injury-marred campaign was drawing to a close.
Skyline made seven of its first 10 shots while sprinting to a 17-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, and the Falcons’ early advantage might have been greater if not for nine first-quarter turnovers forced by Frederick.
The Warriors (17-6, 11-3) finally got on track in the second, outscoring Skyline 24-13 to take a two-point lead into the break. Frederick took advantage as Skyline battled through foul trouble, making 19 of 25 free throws after halftime to steadily extend its lead.
“The first quarter we came out a little slow and (Skyline’s) physicality was definitely at a high level,” Frederick senior Christian Martinez said. “We just got our momentum going a little more and tried to be more physical, and that helped us out.
“This means a lot. Continuing to extend the school record for wins, I think that was a big part of this, too. It’s definitely driven us to where we need to be in the second spot.”
Frederick built a 10-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter, but the feisty Falcons refused to go away. A jumper by Skyline’s Dustin Mandrell, one of three seniors who played their final game for the Falcons, capped a 9-2 Skyline run that brought the hosts to within 62-59 with about 3:15 remaining.
But Frederick’s Lucas Adams answered immediately with a three-point play, sparking a 9-1 game-closing run that sealed the win for the Warriors.
Martinez led four players in double figures for Frederick with 19 points. Mandrell paced Skyline (6-17, 3-11) with 17 points.
“This was a microcosm of how our whole season has been,” Skyline coach Michael Peterson said. “We play well, but then just can’t get over the hump.”
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Frederick 71, Skyline 60
At Skyline HS
FREDERICK (17-6, 11-3)
McGraw 1 0-0 2, Adams 3 4-7 10, Rivera 3 1-2 8, Martinez 4 8-9 19, Miller 3 7-10 13, Wise 2 0-0 4, Therrien 2 6-9 11, Gomez 0 0-0 0, Burgess 1 0-2 2, Yancey 0 2-2 2. Totals 19 28-41 71.
SKYLINE (6-17, 3-11)
Forsyth 2 5-5 9, Mandrell 7 0-0 17, Quesada 2 3-3 7, Dabney 4 2-6 10, Anthony 3 0-0 6, Stuvel 3 1-2 7, Mansanares 2 0-0 4, Soriano 0 0-0 0, Steakley 0 0-0 0, Lucero 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 11-16 60.
Score by quarters:
Frederick 8 24 21 18 — 71
Skyline 17 13 14 16 — 60
3-point field goals — Frederick (5): Martinez 3, Rivera, Therrien; Skyline (3): Mandrell 3. Total fouls — Frederick 16, Skyline 29. Fouled out — Quesada, Anthony, Forsyth. Technical fouls — Mandrell.