BOULDER — It’s never too late in the season for a game of leapfrog.
Not that any of the Fairview girls knew a win against Monarch on Thursday night mattered any more than just wanting to sweep the season series against the Coyotes.
Upon learning the Knights earned fourth-place in the Front Range League with a 50-47 victory over MHS at the Dungeon, Sarah Kaufman was caught completely by surprise.
“Really? I guess that makes sense,” she said nonchalantly. “We really, really just wanted to beat Monarch. (Sweeping the series) hasn’t happened in a long time.”
Matter of fact, Fairview had just one win against the Coyotes in the past nine meetings prior to this year. This one meant so much more, as Fairview rallied from being down 14-2 and 39-31 and outlasted MHS in a frenzied final couple of minutes to improve to 11-5 in league and 15-8 overall.
“I’m really proud of the girls stepping up on Senior Night,” said Fairview coach Rod Beauchamp, whose team will learn Sunday what exactly moving up a position in the FRL does to their playoff seeding. “We’re excited about (the standings). I don’t think the girls knew a whole lot of that. Maybe a couple of girls look at the standings, but really they’ve been about next team up and preparing for that team.”
Monarch, a team that had won six straight, crumbled down the stretch after leading by eight with 2 minutes, 49 seconds left in the third quarter. A flurry of turnovers allowed Fairview extra possessions, and the Knights worked the ball around nicely to tie the score at 40-40 with 5:45 left in the game.
Fairview took its first lead since a 2-0 score on a weak side rebound and putback from Hannah Gould, her second big basket of the fourth quarter. When Logan Tidstrom made a long jumper at the 2:08 mark, it was 46-43.
Monarch’s Kelly O’Flannigan tied the game back up at 46 with a 3-pointer, and Raegan Rohn hit 1 of 2 free throws after a steal to retake the lead 47-46 with 1:21 left.
With 58 seconds left, Annika Lai put Fairview up for good with an aggressive drive to the basket, set up with a screen from Kate Davenport around the free throw line. Caroline McKee had a couple strong rebounds down the stretch and hit a free throw on two different trips to the line, and Monarch (16-7, 11-5) couldn’t find the basket from the perimeter in the final ticks.
“From beating them the first time, we knew we had the ability to beat them again.” Kaufman said. “It was awesome to see several people step up in such a huge game. Us as a team, we stayed composed.”
While Lai (15 points) and Kaufman (16 points) carried the team most of the way, the fourth quarter was all about making the right plays as a team. The Knights were particularly efficient at breaking the trap defense late, helping contribute to some good offensive possessions.
“We had been working on that in practice, so I think we got used to the pressure and just know how to find the gaps,” said Gould. “Any time we can beat them, it’s pretty sweet.”
Monarch coach Gail Hook agreed the game slipped away because of turnovers when her team had a comfortable lead. O’Flannigan led all scorers with 18 points.
“We’ve talked about those stretches where we turn the ball over and how much it hurts us, and all we can do is get back and execute,” Hook said. “At this point in the season, you’ve got to be out there and be confident. Mental mistakes hurt us.”
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Fairview 50, Monarch 47
At Fairview HS
MONARCH (16-7, 11-5)
Raegan Rohn 4 4-7 13, Macy Scott 1 0-0 2, Lauren Mendicino 2 0-0 4, Kelly O’Flannigan 7 0-0 4, Mae Williams 1 6-9 9, Jasmine Jeffcoat 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 10-16 47.
FAIRVIEW (15-8, 11-5)
Annie Kuosman 1 0-0 3, Logan Tidstrom 2 0-0 5, Annika Lai 5 4-4 15, Emily Miley 0 0-0 0, Hannah Gould 2 0-0 4, Rebecca Vickers 0 0-0 0, Sarah Gordon 0 0-0 0, Caroline McKee 1 2-4 4, Kate Davenport 1 1-2 3, Sarah Kaufman 4 6-6 16. Totals 16 13-16 50.
Score by quarters:
Monarch 16 9 15 7 — 47
Fairview 6 17 11 16 — 50
3-point field goals — Monarch (5): O’Flannigan 4, Rohn; Fairview (5): Kuosman, Tidstrom, Lai, Kaufman 2.