BOULDER — It was perhaps what the Fairview basketball team was hoping, but something they surely could not have expected — a Friday night tournament championship game against a rival.
That’s what became of the Fairview Festival after the Knights took out Greeley West 61-56 on Wednesday night in the semifinals at the Fairview gym. The win set up a title game — and a key Front Range League preview — with Fairview hosting Monarch.
The Coyotes (5-1) earned their way with an earlier win on Wednesday. Fairview’s victory also marked the 600th win in the long and decorated career of Knights head coach Frank Lee.
“We hope we can hold up our end of the bargain, because we know (Monarch) is pretty stacked and has a lot of size,” Lee said. “We’ll lace them up on Friday and see how it goes.”
It might be just a case of survival much like that of Wednesday’s game, as the Knights (3-2) had to survive a couple of waves from the Spartans in the second half. Up by as much as 43-33 in the fourth quarter, Fairview had a couple mistakes and struggled to find shots while Greeley West stormed back.
The Spartans eventually tied the game at 47-47 after Kailish Graham-Bell was called for a technical foul, but with the score 52-51 and just 23 seconds left, Fairview’s Steele Mercer provided a huge offensive rebound, and Chris Arehart and Kamran Shahbaz hit six straight free throws after Greeley West was called for a technical foul, sealing the victory.
Shahbaz finished with 20 points, while Arehart contributed 18 in the win.
“I don’t think we were comfortable (with the 10-point lead) but I think we rushed a few things and (Greeley West) did a good job executing their offense,” Lee said. “The technical on us closed the gap and gave them momentum … it was two teams battling hard. Our kids, we’re getting better and this was a good job for us to get to Friday.
“Each night has kind of been an adventure so far.”
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FAIRVIEW 61, GREELEY WEST 56
At Fairview HS
Connor Thompson 0 5-6 5, Darren De La Croix 2 2-3 6, AJ Lopez 3 0-0 8, Preston Marion 4 1-2 10, Cordell Gillingham 8 5-8 21, Zeke Porches 2 0-0 5. Totals 19 13-19 56.
Kamran Shahbaz 6 5-6 20, Steele Mercer 1 0-0 2, Johnny Feauto 1 3-4 5, Kailish Graham-Bell 4 0-0 8, Chris Arehart 3 10-11 18, Evan Grainger 3 2-4 8. Totals 18 20-25 61.
Score by quarters:
Greeley West 14 7 12 23 — 56
Fairview 10 18 11 22 — 61
3-point field goals — Greeley West (5): Lopez 3, Marion, Porches; Fairview (5): Shahbaz 3, Arehart 2. Total fouls — Greeley West 19, Fairview 15. Fouled out — Thompson. Technical fouls — Gillingham, Graham-Bell.