Riley Stein has placed his body in peril for Boulder’s hoops team this winter.
Anything for a win. That’s his mentality — the Panthers’ too — with their playoff hopes clinging to life support.
On Tuesday, Stein’s teammates raced to pick him up after he took yet another hard charge — basketball’s most punishing and selfless play.
The junior — coming into the night with the fourth-most charges taken on average in the nation, per MaxPreps — added four more to go along with his 13 points in a 57-39 win over Erie.
“Both my elbows, I’ve chipped because of it,” Stein said of the hard crashes he’s taken over the season. “It’s to bring energy to the floor. If I can just get one stop, maybe we can make a 3 the next play, get a steal the next possession, and get a five-point swing in 20 seconds or something like that.”
The Panthers (9-11, 4-8 Class 6A Front Range League) needed this win to keep any hopes of getting into the 32-team 6A bracket this winter.
That’s not news to them.
League champs followed by at-large bids from the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index will make the 6A postseason, per the state bulletin. The Panthers sat in 34th coming into the night.
“The mindset is game by game, possession by possession,” Boulder coach Matthew Smith said. “We can’t worry about the help we need to get. We have to worry about taking care of business. We have three more games. We have to win out.”
The probabilities seemed even better after a long-awaited win.
Kyle Blauch, the team’s 6-foot-7, 240-pound big man, owned the glass, hit his fourth 3 of the season and scored 18 in a dominating performance.
The Panthers didn’t score for the first 4 minutes, 38 seconds but held the Tigers to just 10 points in the opening half en route to a runaway victory.
Cole Morrow added a season-high 10 points in the win. Callen Gebhardt, Brayden Haan, Marco Martinez and Jett Hinze each had six for the Tigers (4-16, 2-10).
“We just got to win and got to work,” Blauch said. “That’s what’s important to us.”
The win came after a 47-45 loss to Monarch Saturday, a game in which Smith said they battled back but couldn’t score on their final possession.
Prior to that, the Panthers lost to Fairview by 31 and Broomfield by 13 as part of a three-game skid.
Boulder closes its season with Prairie View, Brighton and Loveland — none of which have a winning record.
The Panthers know if they want any chance at breaking into the state tournament for the first time since 2020, they’ll need to win them all.
Boulder is home against Prairie View Friday.