Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
THORNTON — On a night where Pete Boyle scored all of his team’s points in a strangely squelched second quarter out of Boulder, only to have the offense sputter again early in the fourth, the Panthers still came away with their 11th straight victory Tuesday.
Leave it to the defense. Boulder has no problem with that.
Boyle tied his career high with 16 points, Tyler Turner added 14, and the Panthers stymied the Front Range League’s highest-scoring offense, Horizon, in a 61-49 road win.
“We knew this team was going to be a great defensive team,” Boyle said. “That’s what we pride ourselves on. We know that we’re going to have nights where the ball just doesn’t go in and that’s when our defense is going to shine.”
After trading offensive highlights in a first quarter led 23-18 by Boulder (17-3, 9-0 5A FRL), the Panthers’ defense tightened, and Boyle’s eight points kept them out in front going into the break.
A 19-point third from Boulder then pushed the lead to 10. And despite the Panthers not scoring for the first 3:51 of the fourth, the Hawks (14-6, 6-3) — who came in averaging an FRL-best 70.7 points per game — never did much to threaten.
Over the last three quarters, Horizon was held to just 31 points. Its 49 total points, meanwhile, were a season low.
“These guys know how to rotate and know where they’re going,” Boulder coach Riley Grabau said. “It makes it a lot of fun as a coach because you can throw different stuff at different teams. Make them kind of think a little bit, hesitate, and once they hesitate, we got them where we want them.”
Boulder remains undefeated in the Front Range League, winning its 12th straight in conference play dating back to last season. Currently slated ninth in the latest 5A CHSAANow.com coaches poll, it is tied atop the standings with two-time reigning league champ, Fairview, which beat Rocky Mountain Tuesday.
The battle of the Flatirons, and likely the FRL, is 7 p.m. Monday at the CU Events Center.
“It’s all about Loveland on Friday, it’s always about the next one for us,” Boyle smiled when asked about the crosstown rival. “We can’t get worried about that. We’ll worry about that Saturday after Loveland.”
A night after beating Monarch handily, Boyle’s first of four 3s made it 8-7 in the opening minutes and the Panthers never trailed after that.
The 6-foot-6 senior kept his team ahead with a pair of 3s and long jumper in the second. The Panthers’ harassing defense continued to give the Hawks fits after the break as things broke open. Horizon’s Brock Wisne’s bucket with 4:22 remaining was the first points for either team in the final frame, cutting the deficit to 50-42. But Drake Arthur came back with a 3-point play at 4:09 and Turner had a pair of makes down the stretch to more than help the Panthers close.
Boulder’s last loss came almost a month ago at Ralston Valley on Jan. 13. It travels to Loveland Friday with three games remaining.