Playoff Passion

Boys basketball team enjoys narrow win over Thunder Ridge

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Elijah Boykoff

Senior Pete Boyle outjumps his defender and gets a shot off in a 51-49 playoff win over Thunder Ridge.

Elijah Boykoff, Sports Editor

In a thunderously loud gym filled with hundreds, the varsity boys basketball team faced off against Thunder Ridge in the second round of the state championship playoffs on Feb. 29. Boulder held the 8th seed coming in, while Thunder Ridge had been given the 25th seed. The two teams had faced each other just six weeks earlier, with Thunder Ridge coming out victorious by a score of 44-41. All signs pointed to a highly contested and entertaining match up. 

The game lived up to the hype immediately, as both teams came out hot and showcased some of their talents. Senior Pete Boyle demonstrated his abilities by hitting shots offensively and getting multiple blocks on the other end. The teams traded baskets and the first quarter ended 18-17 to Boulder with both teams up for the challenge. 

While Boulder’s electric energy had them buzzing in the first quarter, they encountered difficulties dealing with the numerous tall Thunder Ridge players as time went on. In fact, Thunder Ridge had nine players on their roster who were taller than 6’3, far more than the one player that could say the same on Boulder. The Thunder Ridge bigs were allowed easy shots when being guarded by shorter Boulder counterparts and made life difficult for the Panthers as the Thunder Ridge players defended well around their own hoop. A second-quarter blitz by the Grizzlies had Boulder supporters worried, but the Panthers managed a comeback late in the half to go into the locker room at 28-28.

As the second half began, the Panthers went cold and saw their opponents cruise out to a 38-30 lead. Boulder tried to find their footing in the third, but managed a mere eight points in the quarter and ended the quarter trailing by four. Issues continued for Boulder in the fourth, as they made turnover after turnover early in the quarter and saw their chances of continuing to the next round of the playoffs slipping away. However, an inspiring individual effort from Junior Jimmy Starry as well as Thunder Ridge difficulties saw the game tied up again with just four minutes remaining.

Elijah Boykoff
Thunder Ridge junior Garrett Arnold is consoled by a teammate while Boulder’s student section storms the court after the Panthers come out victorious.

As time dwindled, both teams found their form again, and Boulder raced out to a 49-46 lead with just 30 seconds remaining. An impressive isolated three-point shot by Thunder Ridge junior Garrett Arnold set the score at 49-49 with only 20 seconds left in the game. The Panthers decided to hold out for the last shot, but the pressure seemed to get to sharpshooter Starry as he airballed a three-point attempt. However, Boulder’s Caleb Wehmuller (senior) leapt for the offensive rebound and was fouled in the act, sending him to the line with 0.7 seconds remaining to try to seal the win. Wehmuller sunk both free throws, and a half-hearted Thunder Ridge attempt at the buzzer ended the game 51-49 to the home team.

Boulder faced ninth-ranked Columbine High School on Mar. 4 with just 16 teams remaining in the tournament. Boulder and Columbine went into the game with equal records of 20-4, having not faced each other this year. The Panthers’ season ended in heartbreak, as Columbine won the game 53-52 with the game being tied with just nine seconds remaining. We congratulate the team for their efforts this season and look forward to the successes of the team next year.