Boulder High School announced that interim boys basketball coach Riley Grabau would be named the head coach full time for the school on Tuesday. The announcement came via social media from Boulder High School athletic director Ed Hartnett.
“It feels great. I’m excited about it,” Grabau said. “I was talking to one of my friends and I just can’t wait to get back in the gym with these guys. Running a program as a whole will not be easy, but I have a lot of people in my corner. I’m excited and a little nervous but looking forward to it.”
Grabau, an alumnus of Boulder who helped the Panthers reach the state championship game as a player in 2011, served as the interim coach this past winter season. Taking over just before the start of the season saw the Panthers get off to a slow start at 1-9, but a turnaround in the second half of the regular season led them to finish with a winning record of 12-11, including a 64-54 win over rival Fairview that sealed their winning record in the final game of the regular season. Boulder qualified for the Class 5A state tournament and reached the second round to finish 13-12 overall.
“I think it was just our guys coming into their own,” Grabau said. “They started moving the ball better on offense. We talk about ball movement and player movement and they did that well. It got better as the season went on, and you want to be your best at end of season.”
The Panthers will look for their 10th consecutive season finishing with a record of .500 or better next winter. For Grabau, he hopes to build off his first season and take them as far as he did as a player. That starts with the summer and offseason workouts to build on their run in the second half of the season.
“This summer will be hard,” Grabau said. “Nothing comes easy. You have to work at it. We’ll do it all summer and go from there.”
Boulder saw a jump in offensive production under Grabau, improving from 48.7 points per game in 2017-18 to 56.8 points per game this past season. The team also saw a slight jump in assists up to 10.6 per game. Junior Tyler Turner, a BoCoPreps.com second team selection, will look to be a key player for Grabau to build around next season after leading the team in points (12.6) and assists (3.1) per game.
The work will begin soon for Boulder, and it’s a journey Grabau is excited to take with his full-time status secured.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to coach basketball and teach young men,” Grabau said. “It’s something very few get to do. I’m happy that I was fortunate to get the job and to have fun with it. You have to enjoy it, and I love what I do. I love coaching, it makes my day better, and it’s fun to be around the guys.”