Boys basketball: Bragging rights at stake in Fairview, Boulder showdown Thursday

  • Kira Vos / Daily Camera

    Fairview's Mark Dolan, center, takes a shot between Monarch's Evan Alexander (left) and Deuce Humphrey during the second quarter of their game in Boulder on Jan. 18, 2019.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera

    Boulder High School head coach Riley Grabau talks with his team during a game against Far Northeast on Jan. 14, 2019.



Last 5 meetings

2018: Fairview 57, Boulder 44

2017: Fairview 55, Boulder 47

2016: Boulder 39, Fairview 35

2015: Boulder 46, Fairview 34

2014: Fairview 55, Boulder 53

Riley Grabau knows firsthand how big the rivalry is between Boulder and Fairview.

A former Boulder Panther himself, Grabau scored 28 points against Fairview in his senior year in 2011 to help the Panthers defeat their rivals 80-50. Even before he stepped on the court, he knew how big the rivalry was from stories his father told him about the two schools facing off.

“It’s a special rivalry and it’s been around for so long,” Grabau said. “I think as a player going into that game, you want to win and beat them, but I think it’s just a fun atmosphere to be around.”

Fairview coach Patrick Burke has also become familiar with the rivalry. Now in his fourth year as head coach for the Knights, he is 2-1 in the rivalry, losing his first time in 2016 but winning the last two.

“This is what high school sports is all about,” Burke said. “Playing your cross-town high school, the community really gets into it. It’s something kids growing up think about. They hear about it. The student body gets excited about it, you hear kids talking about it in the hallways. It’s a great opportunity for high school students to play in front of a big crowd at a college gym, and that makes it something the kids will remember forever.”

On Thursday, the rivalry returns to the CU Events Center to conclude the regular season. A win for Fairview would see the Knights finish undefeated in the Front Range League and head into the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak, perhaps also securing a first-round bye in the playoffs. For Boulder, a win over their rivals would see them finish with a winning record, completing an impressive turnaround after starting the season 1-9.

Neither side wanted to talk about what a win could do for the teams moving forward. Instead, all the attention is on getting a win over their rivals.

“We’re going to come out, play hard and not do anything different,” Grabau said. “Win or lose, as long as they look in the mirror and know they did everything they could, I’ll live with the result.”

Fairview comes in having won the last two games and 11 of the last 20 in the rivalry. The Knights are coming off a 65-45 win over the Fossil Ridge Sabercats and was led by Mark Dolan with 19 points in the victory. The win secured them the conference title and keeps in the top-eight in the RPI standings from CHSAA, which would secure a bye in the first round of the playoffs next week.

A veteran roster leads the team this year with Dolan, Jalen Page and Connor Monnette, all scoring in double figures over Fossil Ridge. Sophomore Greysen Carter is the second-leading scorer for the team while junior Henry Blackburn is third in scoring, adding to the senior depth.

Burke feels it will be his team’s defense that will be the deciding factor Thursday night.

“We’re going to have to defend and rebound. That’s what we have to do,” Burke said. “The offensive side of things will take care of themselves. We have to take (Boulder) off the glass. They have been shooting the 3 well and rebounding well. It’s the same thing I’ve told guys for three years now to win a rivalry game.”

The Knights average 10 more points per game than Boulder but rely on four players to carry the scoring load. As for the Panthers, they average 57.8 points per game but do so with six players average six or more points per game. Leading the team is Tyler Turner at 11.9 per game.

This year has been a tale of two seasons for the Panthers. After losing nine of their first 10 games, the team has won 10 of the last 12. They have won in a variety of ways, but the offense has helped the team get on track. They has scored 70 or more points in seven of their last 10 wins, including the 78 they scored in a win over Greeley West on Tuesday.

“We want to go out and compete against a great team and continue a great rivalry tradition,” Grabau said. “I’m excited for it.”

As for the feelings of taking part in the rivalry for the first time on the sidelines as a coach, he admits to some nerves but is ready for the challenge he and his team will face.

“Competing in the game I love is going to be fun,” Grabau said. “I’m a little nervous, but they come when you go into a big game. Once you get a few possessions in, then you settle down.”

Girls basketball: Fairview looking for more success over Boulder

Two new head coaches make their debut in the Fairview/Boulder rivalry Thursday with Randy Earl in his first season with Fairview and Emily Glen in her first year as head coach for Boulder.

While the boys side has been close over the last two decades, things have been more one-sided in recent history on the girls side of the rivalry.

Boulder won a close game 49-46 over Fairview in 2012, but since then Fairview have defeated Boulder on the court every year. The Knights have won five of the last six games over Boulder by double figures, including a 63-18 thumping last season. Fairview did have a 77-33 win over the Panthers in 2017 turned into a forfeit loss due to the use of an ineligible player. Outside of the forfeit, Boulder has won only three times on the court over the Knights since 2007.

The best chance to end the losing streak against Fairview could come Thursday for the Panthers as they enter with a better overall record at 8-13. The Knights come in at 5-17 after losing to Rangeview on Monday and Fossil Ridge on Tuesday.

Izzy Munson leads all scorers with 14.3 points per game and will look to carry the Knights to another win over their rivals. Helping her will be Kate Lampert inside with 10 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. The Panthers are led by Abbie Gillach (11.3 points per game) and Skye Reich (8.2 points per game). The girls game will kick off the doubleheader at the CU Events Center at 5:30 p.m.

Brandon Boles: or