BOULDER — The clock couldn’t run quickly enough in the fourth quarter for the Fairview boys basketball team.
After the Knights led by 10 with under seven minutes left in Wednesday night’s 5A state playoff opener, they were intent on using as much time as possible each possession. However, the clock — and the Castle View Sabercats — proved stubborn.
But after watching Castle View creep within one point in the final 25 seconds at the Dungeon, Fairview narrowly avoided the upset, posting a 57-52 victory and advancing to Round 2.
It marked the seventh consecutive season the Knights have made it at least to the round of 32 at state.
“It was a tough game,” said FHS senior Sam Martin, who grabbed six rebounds and scored four points. “That’s how they all are in the playoffs. Every team is good and every team can beat any other team on a given day. We pulled it out. That was a great team win tonight.”
Fairview, seeded eighth in the Jim Baggot Region, improved to 16-8 and will play at top-seeded Denver East on Saturday. The Angels (19-4), the state runner-up last year, have been ranked No. 1 in Colorado for much of the season.
“We’re going to go in feeling we’ve got a chance,” Knights coach Frank Lee said. “(Denver East) has got some horses. They’ve got arguably the best player in the state (CU-bound Dominique Collier). They’ve got all the pieces. But we’ve never gone into a game thinking we didn’t have a shot.”
Though Fairview led all but briefly on Wednesday, the margin never felt comfortable. When junior Chris Arehart hit his third 3-pointer of the second half, the Knights went up 44-34 with less than seven minutes left in the contest. But in the process of milking the clock, they went scoreless for nearly four minutes, with Castle View inching within four.
And after FHS spread the margin out to eight on hoops by Martin and Johnny Feauto, the Sabercats made one last surge.
Matt Dowsey converted a three-point play and teammate Matt Clark stole the inbound pass and made a layup to cut Fairview’s lead to 52-51 with 23.8 seconds left.
After Feauto hit a couple of free throws for the Knights, they fouled Jontrell Herman, who made his first attempt from the stripe and intentionally missed the second with 5.6 seconds remaining. FHS’ Miles MacKenzie grabbed the rebound and converted a free throw. And when Castle View was hit with a technical foul for calling a timeout when it didn’t have one, the game was in the bag.
“We made some mistakes and had some big turnovers, but we reset our minds to get the next play (right),” said Arehart, who scored a game-high 19 points and hit all four of his free throws in the pivotal fourth quarter. “We shot pretty well from the line at the end. That put it away. It was a good win.”
Even though Castle View finished the season 10-14, the Knights were expecting a challenge.
“We got a lot of feedback on how good they were,” Lee said. “The seeding committee must have thought they were good because they gave them the ninth seed (despite a losing record). … In a lot of areas, we played as well as we’ve played all year.”
From 2007 through 2013, the Knights have been eliminated in every possible round of the state playoffs: round of 64 (2007), round of 32 (2011), Sweet 16 (2008 and 2012), quarterfinals (2013), semifinals (2009) and finals (2010). Over the last six seasons, FHS owns a cumulative record of 125-30.
But to move to the Sweet 16 this year would take a monumental effort Saturday at Denver East.
“We’re going to give it all we’ve got,” Arehart said. “We don’t back down. So we’ll see what happens.”
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/BoCoPreps
Fairview 57, Castle View 52
At Fairview H.S.
CASTLE VIEW (10-14)
Herman 7 4-7 18, Clark 4 0-0 8, Lewis 1 0-0 3, Dowsey 6 4-5 16, Mattice 1 0-0 3, Lucia 2 0-0 4, McDermott 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0-0 0, Ludwig 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 8-12 52.
Twist 2 2-2 7, Tierney 4 0-0 8, Arehart 5 6-6 19, Pronk 4 2-5 10, MacKenzie 2 1-2 5, Martin 2 0-0 4, Feauto 1 2-2 4, McClellan 0 0-0 0, Swenson 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 13-17 57.
Score by quarters:
Castle View 10 10 12 20 — 52
Fairview 10 15 16 16 — 57
3-point field goals — Castle View (2) Mattice, Lewis; Fairview (4): Arehart 3, Twist. Total fouls — Castle View 16, Fairview 13. Technical fouls — Castle View bench.