BROOMFIELD – In the words of Broomfield High’s boys basketball head coach Terrence Dunn, “rivalries should be tight games.”
That’s certainly been the case for this winter’s Eagles, who kicked off the month of February with a double-overtime victory over crosstown rival Holy Family and came from behind to win 53-50 over Broomfield-area conference rival Legacy on Tuesday night.
While those rivalry victories may be turning Dunn’s hair gray, they have also thrilled the home crowd and propelled the Eagles on what has now become a five-game win streak. Winners of nine of their last 10, the Eagles can thank some of that rivalry momentum for the fact that they’re striding down the regular season’s home stretch in lockstep.
“We knew it was going to be tight because all rivalries are tight,” Eagles senior Ryan Collins said, echoing his coach’s sentiments after Tuesday night’s game. “We’re just happy we could get another win because it’s big for us. We want to try to win out the regular season because we want one of those first-round byes. We’re looking forward to everyone we play right now.”
The Eagles (12-7, 6-2) entered Tuesday’s Front Range League game sitting at No. 20 in the Class 5A RPI standings. Since the top 16 teams in the final RPI standings receive first-round byes in the 5A state tournament, winning their final four games would likely accomplish the Eagles’ goal. That won’t be easy, however, with Fossil Ridge (14-6, 7-2), Poudre (2-18, 1-8), Monarch (11-10, 4-6) and sixth-ranked Fairview (15-3, 7-0) standing in the way.
Legacy (8-14, 5-6) nearly dampened those first-round bye hopes ahead of schedule.
Tuesday’s game was tied 26-26 at halftime and Legacy led by five points, 40-35, to start the fourth quarter. Aided by an effective press, the Eagles pulled even when Collins hit a free throw to tie the game 50-50 with 1:32 left. Broomfield senior Grant Swenson put the Eagles ahead seconds later with a breakaway layup and a Mark Georgiton free throw pushed the Eagles’ lead to 53-50 with 11.1 seconds remaining.
Legacy got up two desperate heaves that would have tied the game but couldn’t get either to do gown.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Dunn said. “I thought (Chase) Esplin and (Eli) Barrow played their butts off for Legacy and really hurt us. We struggled on the offensive end but give our guys credit, we’ve been in tight games a lot this year. They’ve got a lot of heart and they find a way to win in the end.”
Swenson and fellow senior Carson Briggs each had a team-high 11 points for Broomfield while Esplin led all scorers with 13.
In the girls game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, Broomfield won 57-33, improving to 9-0 in league play (15-5 overall) and maintaining its tie with Fossil Ridge for first place in the Front Range League. With three games left on the regular-season schedule, Broomfield’s next game is a Valentine’s Day matchup with the Sabercats that should decide the conference championship.
“We lost Lauren Felknor, one of our starters, to a broken arm last night in the Fairview game,” Broomfield girls head coach Mike Croell said. “I think they all understood that they needed to step up and our defense was fantastic tonight. I think they realized shortly after Christmas that we’d let a lot of close games go. We’ve been in catch-up mode and we have a chance now to get out of it.
“Playing for league titles is what Broomfield basketball has been about for many years and we know Fossil Ridge is very, very good and I’m sure they’re looking for revenge after we beat them last year. But I like the way we’re playing and we’ll see what happens.”