Sabercats lose emotional war to archrival Lambkins


Domenic Leone rising up for a heavily contested layup against two Fort Collins defenders.

Dylan Heinrich, Sports Editor

Some nights absolutely nothing can go right. That was exactly the case for the Fossil Ridge boys basketball team who lost a heartbreaker to Fort Collins High School 55-52 in their first home loss since March 2021. 

Things started off rough for the Sabercats, as their second leading scorer Matthew Boldt went down with a leg injury only a few minutes into the game. Boldt has been a major piece of the Sabercats’ season, averaging 10.1 points and 9 rebounds per game. In addition, the senior forward is a defensive star, as Fossil coach Matt Johannsen was planning to match Boldt up against Collins leading scorer Luke Wagstaff. 

This unforeseen injury threw a major wrench into the Sabercats’ plans. Another struggle came after lead scorer Nick Randall left early in the second quarter after picking up several early fouls. Fossil Ridge was forced to match size with size, as 6’ 6” forward Mac Busteed received major minutes for the first time this season. 

Busteed was immediately thrown into the fire, forced to guard Wagstaff for the majority of the game. The Sabercats managed to keep Wagstaff below his season average at 19 points, but the team knew they could have done more to contain him.

“I was ready to go,” Busteed says. “I knew I was gonna go guard him at some point in the game anyway, but I needed to be better on him.”

Busteed preparing for an inbound pass surrounded by Fort Collins fans. (Connor Tometich)

Both teams traded the lead back and forth, with Fort Collins leading 24-23 at the half. Despite Fossil being comfortable in their depth, Johannsen decided to take the opposite approach in this nailbiter, only playing six players in the second half. 

Along with Busteed stepping up, fellow forward Drew Larson was the only other non-starter who received minutes during the final 16 minutes. Larson contributed seven crucial points during the game, including a bucket late in the third to put Fossil up 43-42 after three quarters. 

But the Sabercats’ offense dried up early in the fourth quarter, giving up a 7-0 run and giving the Lambkins their biggest lead of the game. 

“We didn’t push the ball a lot,” Larson says. “Once it got to the end we were just so tired.”

Larson hit several big baskets to keep Fossil within striking distance all game. (Connor Tometich)

Fossil Ridge continued to claw their way back in, pulling the game within two after a pair of made field goals from Nick Randall. Even in this defensive battle, Randall exceeded his season average with 22 points and 12 rebounds to keep the Sabercats’ offense afloat.

Fossil trailed 51-49 with under a minute, before Luke Wagstaff hit a crucial spin move to get around his defender to put Collins up four. After a Fossil turnover led to a breakaway layup for Lambkins guard Jayce King, even a desperation three pointer from Domenic Leone wasn’t enough to pull his team back into the game.

As Fossil Ridge’s winning streak ends at 10, they are firmly in second place for the race for the Front Range Conference. This loss snaps their 24-game conference winning streak heading all the way back to February 2021.

The Sabercats hope to learn plenty from this matchup, especially as they head closer and closer to the playoffs. The team has two more home games this week, including against Horizon (7-9, 5-3) on Friday and then Legacy (12-4, 6-2) on Saturday.

Randall slamming home a dunk to bring the Sabercats within four. (Connor Tometich)