BOULDER — It’s the bigs that are supposed to cause the most trouble for undersized teams.
Somehow, though, Boulder’s largest obstacle in beating Front Range League rival Fort Collins was 5-foot-10 senior guard Will Duggan.
With both teams clawing for a league victory at the BHS gym on Tuesday night, Duggan’s energy and explosiveness were unmatched in a 71-56 win over the Panthers, a frustrating evening night for a BHS team lacking some senior leadership on defense on this night.
Duggan proved a wily adversary, scoring 21 points on 6 of 8 shooting and maneuvering his way into the lane for uncontested layups far more often than should be allowed.
“Way too often, just way too many unguarded layups to the basket,” said Boulder head coach Eric Eisenhard, whose team fell to 11-5 overall and 6-3 in the FRL. “It was unacceptable. We couldn’t keep the ball off the paint at all off the dribble penetration, and they shot the ball well.”
Keep in mind, the Lambkins’ leading scorer is 6-9 senior Toby Van Ry —- a Colorado State-bound post player —- and Boulder’s Leif Blessing said stopping him and the other sizable Fort Collins players was the prime focus entering the showdown.
For the most part, the Panthers did a solid job controlling Van Ry. He finished with 19 points, eight of those late in the fourth quarter with the game mostly out of reach.
Overall, the Boulder defense just did not get enough stops against the Lambkins (12-4, 7-2). Leading 35-28 at half, Fort Collins was able to add to its lead by the end of the third quarter, and a couple Boulder runs were answered relatively quickly to keep their lead in double digits through the fourth.
Fort Collins shot a blistering 22 for 37 from the field. To add to that, the Lambkins hit 14 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“Our help defense wasn’t where it should have been, and honestly I think we were too focused on (Van Ry) and their other big guys,” said Blessing. “We were too glued up on him and not able to get over in time a lot. They had easy drives and easy scores that should not have happened.”
“We were missing Cooper (Bohm) and Joe (Szarmach) and I think that hurt us defensively,” said Eisenhard. “Those two guys are a backbone of our defense, so there was no question not having them showed up. Some of our youth and inexperience just kind of showed up.”
Boulder’s offense came out solid in the first half, as the Panthers shot 50 percent (11 for 22) to hold just the seven-point deficit at halftime. But with Garrett Turner being double-teamed virtually every time he had the ball across half court, the Panthers’ best option was eliminated.
Turner worked his way around the court for 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, and the Panthers struggled to find consistency elsewhere throughout the game. Blessing was the only other player in double figures, scoring 11 points on five field goals.
That rang especially true in the third, when BHS shot just 2 for 9 and scored five points. The Panthers also had 17 turnovers.
“We really wanted to make sure that whatever (Turner) got, he earned it,” said Fort Collins coach Monty Alcaraz. “He didn’t get very many stationary looks, and we made him put it on the floor to create his own opportunities.”
Fort Collins 71, Boulder 56
At Boulder HS
FORT COLLINS (12-4, 7-2)
Pond 1 0-0 3, Campanella 1 0-0 3, Deeter 3 7-12 15, Von Nieda 2 2-2 6, Martell 1 1-2 4, Duggan 6 8-8 21, Van Ry 8 3-4 19. Totals 22 21-28 71.
BOULDER (11-5, 6-3)
Garrett Turner 5 9-11 20, Landon Taliaferro 2 0-0 5, Christian Feiler 1 1-2 3, Jack Boyle 0 1-2 1, Bill DiScipio 4 0-0 9, Tommy Baumgartner 2 0-0 5, Leif Blessing 5 1-2 11, Collin Heimbach 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 12-17 56.
Score by quarters:
Fort Collins 19 16 10 26 — 71
Boulder 14 14 5 23 — 56
3-point field goals — Fort Collins (6): Deeter 2, Pond, Campanella, Martell, Duggan; Boulder (4): Turner, Taliaferro, DiScipio, Baumgartner. Fouled out — Feiler.