Think it’s simply a coaching cliche that experiences during the regular season can actually lead to success in the postseason?
As they have for much of the season, the Boulder boys basketball team did not flinch in a precarious position on the road, turning in a stirring fourth quarter to record a 57-53 win at Aurora Central in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament.
The ninth-seeded Panthers outscored the host Trojans 15-7 in the final frame to set up a second-round match Saturday at Overland, the No. 1 seed in the Bill Weimar region.
“We’ve been a really gutsy team all season,” Boulder coach Eric Eisenhard said. “We beat Mountain Range on the road in overtime and have been in a lot of tight battles. They seem to know how to fight a little harder in those situations. The team played with a lot of heart down the stretch.”
Boulder trailed 32-27 at halftime but steadily battled back, getting a big basket late from Christian Feiler and finally taking the lead on a 3-pointer from Garrett Turner. Turner finished with four 3-pointers and posted a team-leading 22 points.
Eisenhard lauded the play of his club at the defensive end, where the plan was to turn Aurora Central sophomore sensation Ladarius Thomas into a jump-shooter. While the plan nearly backfired as Thomas remained hot through three quarters, he finally cooled off in the fourth and the Panthers were able to take advantage.
In a further testament to Boulder’s steely nerves, the Panthers finished a perfect 12 for 12 at the free throw line and hit several down the stretch to secure the win.
Next up is a date at Overland, which owns a 17-6 overall record and came away with a conference crown in the rugged 5A Centennial League.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” Eisenhard said. “I think we can draw some confidence in our (second-round) battle at Regis last year, and we certainly gained a lot of confidence tonight.”
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Boulder 57, Aurora Central 53
At Aurora Central H.S.
Joe Szarmach 4 0-0 11, Christian Feiler 3 6-6 12, Garrett Turner 7 4-4 22, Jack Boyle 1 0-0 2, Joe DiScipio 0 0-0 0, Tommy Baumgartner 0 2-2 2, Cooper Bohm 1 0-0 2, Leif Blessing 3 0-0 6. Totals 19 12-12 57.
Score by quarters:
Boulder 15 12 15 15 — 57
Aurora Central 21 11 14 7 — 53
3-point field goals — Boulder (7): Turner 4, Szarmach 3.