Sigh of relief: Monarch boys' hoops win at buzzer; remains tied atop FRL

Jan. 25—LOUISVILLE — More hands-over-head sighs of relief than a pumped-fist celebration after Monarch's win at the buzzer Thursday night.

Not that the Coyotes are complaining.

Horizon missed a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds, and a tying put-back at the horn, as Monarch held on to beat the Hawks, 66-64, to remain perfect at home and very much engrained atop a crowded Front Range League race.

Their sixth win in seven games came 48 hours after their month-long winning streak was snapped in an 86-69 loss at Fort Collins, and mere minutes following a late deficit to one of the six FRL teams that came into the night with just one league loss.

Tyler Carlson finished with 17 for the Coyotes (10-4, 6-1 6A FRL), answering a go-ahead, breakaway layup from the Hawks with a silky drive to the hoop that tied things with 2:42 remaining. Riley Montemayor put them ahead a minute later as Horizon was called for goaltending, and Carlson and Graham Johnson, who had 16 points, went 1 of 2 from the free throw line to give Monarch a two-point lead with 18 seconds left.

Boston Rodriguez missed the potential winner for Horizon (8-7, 5-2), and Brady Greene — who'd been dominant in the fourth, where he scored eight of his 20 — was falling backwards as his put-back chance from 15 feet didn't make it to the rim.

"It wasn't a pretty win," Carlson said. "But good teams find a way to win."

Logan Laverty (12.0 ppg), the team's leading scorer coming into the night, was scoreless through three quarters before tallying a quick five points to help give Monarch a four-point lead with 4:54 to go. Van Nellessen had 12 points before fouling out 90 seconds later. Evan Trujillo had 11.

Monarch will play outside of the FRL Saturday at Regis Jesuit before getting back to it next week, with league games against Broomfield, Fairview and Boulder. And though the Coyotes say they aren't harping much on the race for the program's first league title in 20 years, they're in good shape with three weeks left in the regular season.

At night's end, they were tied for first in the standings alongside Fossil Ridge, Legacy and Rocky Mountain.

"Definitely it's a big goal for us but we just got to put one game in front of the next," Johnson said. "We got a big week next week. We just got to learn how to play together and the result will come."

Earlier, Johnson fueled an 8-0 run late in the opening quarter, getting an and-one layup in traffic before drilling a 3 to put the Coyotes up seven. He hit the team's first three 3s after its spotty start from deep, then Nellessen put Monarch back up late in the second thanks to a hoop-and-harm, three-point play of his own.

Trujillo's buzzer-beating 3 was just late as the Coyotes took a 32-28 lead into halftime. Trujillo and Carlson combined for 13 of their team's 17 points in the third, holding a 49-46 advantage headed into the fourth. An 8-0 run by Horizon into the fourth was capped off by an alley-oop layup that Greene finished to give the Hawks a 50-49 lead with 7:06 remaining.

The Coyotes had the better finish, escaping with a win on a night they shot just 35% from the field, 28% from 3 and 62% from the line.

"Well with what happened to us Tuesday night, I don't think any of us were sure how we were going to react. We'd won five in a row and went up to Fort Collins and they gave us the business," Monarch coach Tim DeBerry said. "It was, yeah, let's just get over this hump and see what we can do."