Boys basketball: Fairview’s offense fizzles in loss against ThunderRidge

BOULDER — Oftentimes when two deft defensive teams match up, the results aren’t necessarily aesthetically pleasing.

Add to the equation that it was the first game back from the holiday break, and one can understand why Saturday’s Fairview-ThunderRidge boys basketball game was more grind and grit than anything resembling smooth flow.

As it was, visiting ThunderRidge was able to battle through the bogged-down pace slightly more efficiently. The Grizzlies triumphed 44-41 in the Class 5A non-league contest, dealing the Knights their initial defeat of the season.

“We struggled to get points easy,” Fairview senior Miles MacKenzie said. “They were a long team and we were a little rusty from break, but I think as a team we really tried to get the ball in there. Things just didn’t go our way.”

Knights coach Frank Lee didn’t necessarily term it a bad loss, indicating it might have a longer-reaching positive effect than some of his team’s pre-break victories.

“I think it was a good game to come back to,” Lee said. “I think we’ll get better from it. A game like this is better than some of the games we won early in that the competition was really strong. That’s why we schedule people like that.”

MacKenzie scored 12 points to lead the Knights (6-1) and Gabe Tierney added 11. The game got away from the Knights when, with the scored knotted 34-34 in the latter stages, ThunderRidge (7-3) embarked on a 7-0 run.

A backdoor layup by the Grizzlies’ Noah Szilagyi, two free throws by Mitch Bloom and a bucket with a foul by Elias Tiedgen comprised the run and left the Knights with only 46 seconds to respond.

“ThunderRidge is a good team,” MacKenzie said. “They have guys that are long. Our tallest guy is 6-5, they have a guy 6-10 (Zach Pirog). Break might have had a little to do with it, but we’ll be ready to play on Tuesday.”

The Knights open Front Range League play Tuesday against Mountain Range.

Fairview (6-1) had its bursts. After managing only four points through the midway point of the second quarter, the Knights closed with a flourish to enter halftime tied 16-16. After falling behind by 10 in the third quarter, they trimmed the ThunderRidge lead to 29-28 entering the fourth.

Fairview even had a brief 33-30 lead after Tierney drilled a 3-pointer from the right baseline early in the fourth, but it was short-lived.

“When we got second opportunities — and we got a lot of them — we didn’t convert as many as we should have,” Lee said. “Maybe we were in a hurry.”

Still, Lee isn’t over-fretting the defeat.

“I’m probably in a better place mentally than after some of the wins we had,” Lee said. “We showed promise.”Follow Paul on Twitter: twitter.com/PaulWillis21

ThunderRidge 44, Fairview 41

At Fairview HS

THUNDERRIDGE (7-3)

Crawford 0 1-4 1, Bloom 2 2-3 6, Szilyagi 2 2-4 7, Pirog 4 1-2 9, Tiedgen 3 3-6 10, Harhigh 0 0-0 0, Mueller 3 0-0 7, Verk 2 0-0 4. Totals 16 9-19 44.

FAIRVIEW (6-1)

Twist 0 3-4 3, Tierney 5 0-0 11, Arehart 1 0-0 2, Pronk 1 1-3 3, MacKenzie 4 3-6 12, Swanson 0 0-0 0, Martin 3 2-3 8, Feauto 1 0-0 2, Hoskins 0 0-0 0, McClellan 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 9-16 41.

Score by quarters:

ThunderRidge 10 6 13 15 — 44

Fairview 3 13 12 13 — 41

3-point field goals — ThunderRidge (3): Szilagyi, Tiedgen, Mueller; Fairview (2): Tierney, MacKenzie. Total fouls — ThunderRidge 19, Fairview 21. Fouled out — Feauto. Technical fouls — ThunderRidge: Coach Ortiz.