FORT LUPTON — Every possession matters in basketball, and the Fort Lupton boys basketball team learned that lesson the hard way Friday night.
Despite shooting the ball poorly against Erie, the Bluedevils were right in the game Friday but couldn’t overcome missed opportunities late before falling 53-51.
Fort Lupton turned the ball over twice in the final minute and missed a pair of jumpers, before Jalen Vasquez hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the deficit.
“Every play matters, whether it is in the first quarter or the fourth quarter,” Fort Lupton coach Jim Roedel said. “You lose by two, and there may be a loose ball somewhere you didn’t get.”
The Bluedevils never trailed by more than seven points and went into the fourth quarter down by two when they finally got things going offensively. Vasquez scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth, and a fast-break basket by Patrick Vasquez gave Fort Lupton a 38-37 lead with four minutes left. However, Erie responded with a trey by Kyle Leahy and a three-point play by Dylan Brink to go up by five.
“We struggled shooting the ball, and we also took some bad shots,” Roedel said. “We talked about that after the game.”
Shooting wasn’t Fort Lupton’s only issue in the first half. The Bluedevils also turned the ball over 10 times in the half.
Despite the struggles, a trey by Cruz Tijerina and a pair of baskets by Alex Reckard kept Fort Lupton within the four at the half. Tijerina also opened the second half with a 3-pointer as the Bluedevils started the half on a 5-0 run.
“We were taking challenged shots (in the first half) and we started to attack the basket in the second half, and good things happened,” said Roedel. “I think we got away from it after taking the lead in the third.”
Erie’s Coltin Brink led all scorers with 18 points, while Kyle Leahy added 16 for Erie. Jeff Merritt had nine points for Fort Lupton, while Tijerina added eight.
The Bluedevils open Colorado 7 play Tuesday at home against Vista PEAK Prep. Tip time is 7 p.m.