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Boys basketball: Now-Erie assistant Grabau faces old team; Tigers beat Boulder

Feb. 6—ERIE — Tuesday night's hoops game between Erie and Boulder seconded as a reunion for the Panthers' basketball son.

Riley Grabau — the former star player at Boulder, who later returned to coach the program — is now an assistant on Erie's staff. His Tigers are trying to make a late run at a postseason bid under first-year head coach Jeff Parriott, and they got one step closer by beating the visiting Panthers, 50-41.

"I missed coaching high school basketball," Grabau said before the game. The 31-year-old led the Panthers to the Class 5A championship game in 2011 as a player, then to the round of 16 in his final season as their coach in 2019-20. "I think in high school basketball you can teach a lot without using the X's and O's. Even though the X's and O's are pretty important, off-the-court is even more important."

Grabau said he and his fiancée returned to Colorado after stops at the University of Wyoming, the collegiate program he guided to success, becoming the director of recruiting in 2020. Then he joined Cal State Monterey Bay's coaching staff as its lead assistant.

Seeing some old friends inside Erie's gym, Grabau was all smiles chatting with Boulder athletic director Ryan Bishop before and after the game. Bishop was an assistant coach when Grabau was a player, and each was an assistant on each other's coaching staff when Grabau was ahead of the basketball program and Bishop football.

Bishop marveled over his longtime friend, calling him the "ultimate competitor and teammate" on the court.

Parriott said Grabau is already an invaluable part of his staff.

"Obviously, he was a great player. Great high school player, great collegiate player, great international player. But I've learned he's even a better person," Parriott said. "He's terrific to have on staff and has become one of my best friends. Kids look up to him. They respect him, and what he says is golden. How could you not listen to someone who has the background Riley has?"

Callen Gebhardt led Erie (10-9, 5-6 6A Front Range League) with 20 points in the win. The junior swished a 3 to push the lead to two possessions with 1:44 remaining, then made four straight free throws down the stretch to help seal things.

Cole Morrow had a game-high 27 points for injury-plagued Boulder (6-13, 1-10), which has lost six straight.

Both teams finished the night outside the 6A 32-team playoff picture, with the Tigers at No. 35 in the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index, the Panthers 44th.

With four games left for Erie, Parriott didn't shy away from talking about a playoff push. The Tigers are on the bubble after going 5-18 a year ago.

"Once we settled in, and once the kids bought into what we're trying to do, it was appropriate to start talking about, OK, postseason. It's very much a possibility for us," he said. The focus is clear. "We play Friday and we need to win Friday."

Erie is home against Monarch Friday, while Boulder is at Prairie View.