Was the Fountain-Fort Carson boys' basketball team intimidated by Pine Creek's undefeated record?
The short answer: no.
But in reality, it was a little more dramatic as the Trojans jumped out to a big lead in Class 4A/5A Colorado Springs Metro League action before Pine Creek cut the deficit to just a field goal. In the end, F-FC survived a late-game rally with a 69-60 home win Saturday night to hand the Eagles their first loss of the season.
The Eagles are coming off a 9-15 season.
"This was really good for us," Trojans senior guard Keiton Beck said.
Beck led all scorers with 21 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, followed by junior Keyshawn Maltbia's 16. Senior James Sanders added 11.
The Eagles entered the league matchup with a 7-0 record, led by senior guard Grant Wilkinson. He came in averaging 17.4. With that, the Trojans (7-4, 1-0) made him a marked man.
"We put a lot of emphasis on stopping (Wilkinson)," F-FC coach Paul Mileto said.
And the Trojans' strategy worked — for most of the contest. Wilkinson finished with 12 points, all in the second half. So other Pine Creek players had to step up, including Peyton Westfall. The junior guard hit four 3-pointers to finished with 14 points for the Eagles (7-1, 1-1).
F-FC came out firing, jumping to a 21-4 lead in the first quarter. That run was ignited by back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to open the game; two came from Maltbia.
The Trojans went on to wrap up the period with a 26-10 lead.
In the second quarter, Westfall started getting hot with a pair of shots from beyond the arch. But the Trojans kept it cool with a 39-24 halftime lead, thanks to a 12-2 rally.
"They came into this 7-0," Mileto said. "We knew this was a big game."
So did the Eagles, who rallied late in the third quarter to cut a double-digit deficit to 49-43. Pine Creek held F-FC to no field goals in the final 4:42 of the period.
And the Eagles got help from one of the smaller bodies on the floor. Kenny Pham, a junior who appeared to be shorter than most of his opponents, capped off the third quarter with a flying putback.
He wasn't done there.
Pham opened the fourth with a bucket, followed by a Wilkinson 3. That cut the Trojans lead to 49-47 with 7:14 left. Shortly after, Westfall was whistled for his fifth foul, taking away Pine Creek's main perimeter shooter.
The Trojans held on, thanks in part to Beck's seven points in the final quarter.
"We started taking care of the ball and passing it around," he said about his team's late-game strategy. "We were making good plays, taking good shots. We weren't forcing anything."