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Boys basketball: Nellessen finishes two blocks away from triple-double; Monarch beats Broomfield

Jan. 30—LOUISVILLE — A big night for Monarch's big Tuesday — so much so, the pats on the back for 6-foot-8 Van Nellessen continued to funnel in well after the Coyotes' 81-74 win.

The biggest of which maybe coming from the opposing coach, Broomfield's Terrence Dunn, who told the senior he thought he was best player in the Front Range League.

"It's a huge compliment," Nellessen said. "Hard work is kind of paying off."

For him, and for Monarch.

Nellessen finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks for the Coyotes (11-5, 7-1 6A FRL) — not to mention a two-handed slam on the backend of an alley-oop that sent his home student section into a frenzy at the start of the fourth quarter.

The rim-rattling play, assisted by Tyler Carlson in a play they often practice, fueled a 10-0 run that pushed the lead to 19, and eventually, to Monarch's seventh win in eight league games. Its currently tied atop the FRL standings.

"I think he's a presence inside, blocking shots. He rebounds. He can stick 3s. He cuts really, really well. His length is obviously a problem," Dunn said of Nellessen. "I think he is the best player in the league by far."

Carlson added 17 points for Monarch, going 5 of 8 from the field and 7 of 10 from the line. Graham Johnson had 16, Evan Trujillo 12, as the two combined for seven of their team's 10 3s.

Ethan Zufall had a game-high 21 points for Broomfield (11-6, 5-4). After the Coyotes pushed out to a 71-52 lead on Nellessen's bucket with 4:27 remaining, the junior led a comeback charge that got the Eagles within single digits late.

"This group, from the summer to now, is tough. They're a resilient group. They can be a relentless group," Dunn said of his team as it believes it's closer to the top FRL teams than its record indicates. Its last three losses in the FRL have come by a combined 11 points. "We have to get better at a few things, but they believe they can play with anybody."

A second half dipped in big runs followed a tight game that saw four lead changes and neither team going up by more than two possessions before the break.

Blaes Kane had 14 of his 19 points ahead of the half for the Eagles, hitting a 3, then finishing an and-one, 3-point play to put them up six early. Carlson had a quick five as part of Monarch's 8-0 close to the second quarter, giving the Coyotes a 41-37 lead.

Nellessen took over in the third. He did everything. He scored from both deep and inside the paint. He finished an and-one, 3-point play as part of a spurt that extended the lead into double digits. His 12 rebounds and eight blocks were both season highs.

"We brought a lot of energy (after halftime). That helped," he said. "The student section helped, too."

Monarch is on the road against Fairview Friday, while Broomfield is at Boulder.