Boys basketball: Erie falls in 4A Sweet 16 round

Tigers perform admirably under first-year coach Gail Hook


DENVER — Take away the 16-3 and 13-2 runs by Northfield to begin the first and third quarters on Wednesday night, and the Erie boys basketball team may have faced a different result. Instead, a 74-63 defeat in the Class 4A Sweet 16 ended the special campaign for the Tigers and first-year EHS head coach Gail Hook.

“We started out slow in the first and started out slow in the third, and this is a very good, athletic team,” Hook said after the contest. “At this time of the season you can’t start out that sluggish because they took advantage of it.”

Taking an 18-8 advantage after a quarter, six points from Nighthawks’ senior big-man Nahsyah Bolar set the tone along with five points apiece from senior guards Diego Dominguez and Marcus Rogers. Keeping the Tigers afloat, sophomore standout Kayan Hargrave recorded seven points in the frame.

“We just didn’t have an answer for No. 11,” Hook said of Bolar. “He’s a great athlete, plays above the rim, and it was just tough to stop him. I don’t think we put a body on him, and a kid with that kind of athleticism, you can’t allow that.”

Despite Bolar adding six more points in the second, a spirited, rejuvenated effort from Erie in the quarter — led by the entrance of junior Jordan Nguyen and sophomore bruiser John Pastore — brought the road team within six with 2:30 remaining. Holding their ground, five points added by senior Myles Masters left the margin at 33-25 going to the half.

But that 13-2 run from Northfield to start the second half — led by the five quick points by Dominguez — stretched the lead quickly back to double-figures. Pushing the lead to a night-high 19 with five minutes left in the third, the run-and-gun Nighthawks soared to deflections and easy baskets in transition.

Erie didn’t give in, though. Cutting back into the home team’s lead, Nguyen found his groove in tallying 13 points and cutting the lead back to single digits, but with only 56 seconds left. Quality quarters also from senior LaDorian Havard (five points), junior Kevin Loy (four points) and Hargrave (four points, as part of a team-most 17) wasn’t enough to make it all the way back – ending the 2019-2020 season.

Leaving their mark on the program, six seniors depart in Seth Alexander, Owen Masters, Rylan Haines, Caleb Kumar, Myles Masters and Havard. From a program that recorded two wins in 2014-15, just prior to their at the school, this group leaves Erie in a much better place than when they arrived.

“They meant everything to us,” Hargrave said of the senior class. “They were my role models coming up, and almost all of them — being on my team as well last year — I looked up to them every practice and tried to do whatever they did. This year, they are what pushed us through and got us this far. I know that next year we are going to make a statement in the league, and everybody will come together. We are all already very close, so I’m very excited for next year.”