BOULDER — While trying to establish an identity, the Monarch boys basketball team is bound to run into some forgettable moments.
When you still can succeed in the midst of the trials, as the Coyotes did on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Fairview Festival, those things are a lot easier to swallow.
It’s hard to describe any part of their game against Denver South as pretty, but thanks to a strong fourth quarter and a persistence to the cause, the Coyotes prevailed with a 45-43 victory to move on to Friday’s championship contest.
If anything, the Coyotes proved to have a little bit of grit on Wednesday.
“It says that we’re tough, and being down five at half, to come back it shows out mental toughness,” said guard Mac Rowan, who finished with a team-most 15 points. “I think we can be happy with this win.
“We’ve been running a lot of motion and trying to see who is going to be the guy to step up every game. Who’s going to take charge and how we’re going to come together as a team. As long as we can find that before the (Front Range League) season begins, I think we can be a great team.”
The Coyotes are trying to move on this year from the dominating scoring that two of last year’s seniors provided. Ben Beauchamp and Jay MacIntyre carried the load, and Monarch is working through growing pains.
All while 5-1 after the win over the Rebels, who made the Class 4A state championship game a year ago.
“It was tough to sit through some of that, but we kept battling,” coach Ken Niven said. “They were quick and athletic, and we just did a nice job of battling. We showed perseverance and fought through what really was some ugly offensive play.”
Monarch did not have a lead in the game until the 5 minute, 33 second mark of the fourth quarter, when Sam Fredricksmeyer hit a lengthy jumper to make it 34-33 for Monarch.
The teams stayed within a couple of points of each other throughout the remainder of play. But for Monarch, who made just enough free throws to hold the Rebels off, two huge calls inside of the 1:00 mark aided the cause.
With just 43 seconds left and Monarch ahead 40-39, Rowan drove to the hoop with South’s Chudier Bile standing down low. Bile grabbed the net going up for the block, giving Rowan the two points with the goaltending call.
In the waning seconds, South’s Devante Loggins was called for an offensive foul as he drove for a desperation 3-pointer, sealing the win for Monarch.
In no quarter did the Coyotes shoot better than 50 percent from the floor, but Ryan Webb (12 points) and Fredricksmeyer (10 points) also provided timely scoring to keep the Rebels from running away with anything.
“They did a good job of taking away our easy shots, and I know we’re a better shooting team than that,” Niven added.
Turner Peterson scored 14 points for South, but a change in defense helped Monarch get a few more turnovers down the stretch. They needed those, as well, as Denver South held a distinct advantage in rebounds (29-15).
“We need to work on a lot of areas, rebounding especially,” Rowan said. “We have some good big guys that can really help the team. They’ll find their place and we’ll really get going.”
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MONARCH 45, DENVER SOUTH 43
At Fairview HS
DENVER SOUTH (2-4)
Devante Loggins 0 5-5 5, Justin Wariner 1 2-2 4, Turner Peterson 6 1-1 14, Rayshawn Kennedy 3 3-4 10, Charles Gavin 3 3-6 9, Terriek Roberts 0 1-2 1. Totals 13 15-20 43.
Shawn Kirkman 1 0- 1 2, Sam Fredricksmeyer 3 4-5 10, Mac Rowan 5 2-6 15, Eric Lawson 1 0-1 2, Ryan Webb 3 6-7 12, Kylor Johnson 1 1-5 4. Totals 14 13-25 45.
Score by quarters:
Denver South 13 10 8 12 — 43
Monarch 7 11 11 16 — 45
3-point field goals — Denver South (2): Peterson, Kennedy; Monarch (4): Rowan 3, Johnson. Total fouls — Denver South 21, Monarch 19.