By Cory Waltrip, editor-in-chief & Loic Guegan, staff writer
After two inspiring performances last week, the Boulder High boys basketball team couldn’t follow up with a much-needed victory over their rival, the Monarch Coyotes. The Panthers lost 60-55 in a good effort that fell short due to clutch free throw shooting by the Coyotes.
Last Friday night, Boulder downed Mountain Range 54-47 and then followed up their performance with a 66-50 victory over Horizon, both games taking place at home. The Panthers record now stands at 8-14 and 5-10 in Front Range League play, and Friday night’s game against their hated cross-town rival Fairview, who is undefeated in conference play and ranked No. 5 in the state, will determine whether they make the playoffs.
“Playoffs are completely out of our control at this point; it’s in the selection committee’s hands. All we can do is play our best game against Fairview and hope for the best,” head coach Eric Eisenhard said.
Boulder trailed the Coyotes for the majority of the game and took the lead for the first time, 47-46, with a three-pointer from junior guard Marc Krimstock with five minutes remaining. But Monarch responded with a barrage of free throws and regained the lead. Boulder fought back to narrow the margin to 52-51 with a layup from senior guard Jack Huettel but couldn’t regain the lead due to perfect free-throw shooting from the Coyote guards to ice the game.
“In the last five minutes of the Monarch game, we struggled to put the ball in the basket. I thought our defense was stingy enough. We just missed the front end of some one-and-one’s and didn’t make some open shots. Sometimes that’s just how it goes. We played as hard as we possibly could and did everything in our control to win the game,” Eisenhard said.
Now the Panthers will have one last gasp to prove they are playoff worthy, and the game is dripping with drama. The last regular-season game, tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Coors Event Center, will be between rivals headed in very different directions. The atmosphere will be rowdy, with Boulder fans praying for an upset over the hated Knights. The Panther seniors will no doubt bring their best effort as they may be playing in their final high-school game.
The Panthers also have the utmost confidence of their coach.
“Looking back on the game, I wouldn’t change anything we did from a conceptual standpoint. I thought our game plan was sound, our effort was fantastic and we played together. We just missed a few shots at a key point in the game. I felt exceedingly proud of the players. They are such a hard-working group. Probably the hardest working group I’ve ever been around. They believe in each other, they are very coachable and they will do whatever is needed of them. I think they’ve showed an extraordinary amount of character this season. I have no doubt that this group of individuals will be successful at whatever they choose to do in life because of their attitudes and their resiliency,” Eisenhard said.