Boulder boys basketball coach Eric Eisenhard claims he still is waiting for his club to put together a full 32 minutes of Panthers basketball.
On Tuesday against Mountain Range, Boulder came pretty darn close. And with four games remaining in the regular season — including the final three against other prime contenders for the Front Range League crown — any improvement on the Panthers’ stellar effort against the visiting Mustangs will keep Boulder squarely in the mix.
The Panthers recorded their seventh straight win and picked up their ninth victory in 10 games with a 67-57 decision against Mountain Range. There were plenty of stars for Boulder, which received 21 points from Landon Taliaferro, 20 from Garrett Turner, and a solid defensive effort from senior Tommy Baumgartner against Mustangs leading scorer Andrew Romero III.
“We felt like coming into this game we hadn’t put together a full 32 minutes of basketball yet,” Eisenhard said. “I don’t know if we did it tonight, but that’s the closest we’ve come. This was a step in the right direction towards that.
“(Mountain Range) is a really, really powerful offensive team, so we had a very specific defensive game plan. And we executed it. At times we got a little lucky. They missed some shots they usually make. But hats off to our kids. They did exactly what we were trying to do.”
Boulder (15-4, 7-1 Front Range League) trailed by seven points midway through the second quarter before taking control with a game-breaking run. The Panthers finished the half on a 12-2 run, then promptly added the first 12 points of the third quarter, a burst capped by consecutive 3-pointers from Taliaferro.
In all, it was a 24-2 run for the Panthers that turned a seven-point deficit into a 15-point lead. While Boulder received many contributions offensively during the sequence, Baumgartner’s defense against Romero also proved critical. The Mountain Range senior scored eight points in the final quarter to reach his scoring average at 19 points, but through three quarters he had worked tirelessly to score just 11.
“I think more than just me, it was our team approach to defense,” Baumgartner said. “We were really good help-side, and we knew (Romero) was a strong driver, especially right-handed. I tried to take his right hand away as much as possible and force him to the left, where I knew the rest of the guys would be behind me.”
Mountain Range (13-5, 4-3) knocked down three 3-pointers in the final frame and battled to within five points with 1 minute, 32 seconds remaining, but Turner led a free throw barrage that kept the Mustangs at bay.
For the second consecutive game Turner went a perfect 10 for 10 at the free throw line, leading the Panthers to an 18 for 22 effort overall.
“Credit to them — they shot the (heck) out of the ball, but we kept on going,” Turner said. “Free throw shooting is 90 percent mental. I shoot free throws every day. They’re free. That’s what my eighth-grade coach always said. They’re free, so you’ve got to take them.”
Boulder plays at Legacy on Friday before closing the regular season against three of the other top contenders for the league crown — Horizon, Monarch, and first-place Fossil Ridge.
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Boulder 67, Mountain Range 57
At Boulder HS
MOUNTAIN RANGE (13-5, 4-3)
Ben Egan 6 0-0 15, Max Castillo 3 2-2 9, James Potter 3 0-0 9, Bryce Waggoner 1 0-0 2, Andrew Romero III 8 2-2 19, Tyler Smith 0 0-0 0, Michael Serna 1 0-0 3. Totals 22 4-4 57.
BOULDER (15-4, 7-1)
Garrett Turner 4 10-10 20, Landon Taliaferro 7 3-4 21, Bill DiScipio 2 0-0 4, Tommy Baumgartner 1 2-2 5, Leif Blessing 3 1-2 7, Jack Boyle 0 0-0 0, Morgan Hohlfelder 3 0-2 6, Savoy Carl 1 2-2 4. Totals 21 18-22 67.
Score by quarters:
Mountain Range 14 9 9 25 — 57
Boulder 12 14 18 23 — 67
3-point field goals — Mountain Range (9): Egan 3, Potter 3, Romero, Serna, Castillo; Boulder (7): Taliaferro 4, Turner 2, Baumgartner. Total fouls — Mountain Range 17; Boulder 8.