Brad Cochi / BoCoPreps.com
Brad Cochi / BoCoPreps.com
Brad Cochi /BoCoPreps.com
BOULDER — Simply looking for a strong finish to an epic week of basketball, the Fairview boys didn’t take the court on Tuesday night with the expectation of mathematically locking up the Front Range League regular season championship.
The Knights did, however, get the hardest part out of the way. Then they received an unexpected favor from a bitter rival.
Four days prior on Friday, the Knights won a pivotal road game over a Fossil Ridge team that at the time stood atop the Front Range League standings, vaulting them into the lead for the conference title. On Tuesday night, they won 72-54 at home over third-place Rocky Mountain. Also on Tuesday night and less than five miles away, crosstown rival Boulder dealt Fossil Ridge its third loss of the season.
With the crucial wins they have picked up over the past week, and holding a head-to-head advantage over the only teams that could potentially match their final regular-season record – Fossil Ridge, Rocky Mountain, Broomfield and Mountain Range – the Knights have positioned themselves to finish the regular season with at least a tiebreaker-leading share of the league title.
“We’re playing really well as a team right now,” Knights junior Ashton Nichols said. “We’re sharing the basketball, a lot of different people are scoring and we’re on a good roll right now. We’ve had it in us and it’s been up to us to go grab it. I think we finally realized we’re good enough and we control our own destiny at this point.”
Winners of nine straight conference games, the Knights (14-7, 9-1 Front Range) were on point from the jump on Tuesday night. They held the visiting Lobos (9-11, 6-3 Front Range) to five points in the first quarter and led 37-23 at halftime.
Offensively, the Knights had four players – Nichols, Henry Blackburn, Jalen Page and Mark Dolan – scoring in double figures. Dolan, who hit four of the Knights’ seven 3-pointers, led the team with 19 points.
After winning just 11 out of 24 games last season and starting the season with a 1-3 record, the Knights weren’t the favorites to win the conference title. But since they got all 11 of their varsity players healthy on Jan. 6, they’ve been on a roll and are looking more and more like a tough out once the state tournament begins.
“It’s been a lot of fun watching them come together,” Fairview head coach Patrick Burke said. “We’re sharing the basketball and defending with five guys moving together, and we did a really good job of that in the first quarter tonight. When we needed to and wanted to, we did some really good stuff tonight. Getting four guys in double figures, that’s just this group. They really, really care about each other and they have a lot of fun. They love seeing their teammates do well and it makes everything easier when that’s the case.
“We were taking things one game at a time for a while there. All of a sudden, when we got everybody in the gym, we started to see the product. They’re competitive and the league is ours right now, and we want to hold on to it. Right now, it’s about us and doing what we need to do. We’ll worry about the rest later.”
The Knights will have a week off before they play their next game. They will be back at home on Tuesday to host Loveland (2-17, 0-8 Front Range) for senior night, and with a chance to become outright league champions.
Fairview 72, Rock Mountain 54
At Fairview H.S.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN (9-11, 6-3)
Romero 1 4-4 6, Fisher 2 0-0 6, Radcliff 0 0-0 0, Elliott 2 0-0 6, Heinze 0 0-0 0, Urynowicz 10 8-11 30, Young 0 0-0 0, Schroeder 0 2-4 2, Lovell 1 2-3 4. Totals 16 16-20 54.
FAIRVIEW (14-7, 9-1)
Cousin 0 3-4 3, Blackburn 5 5-8 16, Atkinson 0 0-0 0, Page 3 5-6 12, O’Neill 1 2-2 4, Dineen 1 0-1 2, Raguveer 1 0-0 2, Nichols 1 0-0 2, Nichols 5 3-5 14, Dolan 6 3-4 19. Totals 22 21-29 72.
Score by quarters:
Rocky Mountain 5182011—54
3-point field goals — Rocky Mountain (6): Urynowicz 2, Elliott 2, Fisher 2; Fairview (7): Dolan 4, Blackburn, Page, Nichols. Total fouls — Rocky Mountain 22, Fairview 18.