LOVELAND - The Fowler High School boys' basketball team got off to a fast start when it played Byers in the Class 2A State Tournament quarterfinals Thursday at the Budweiser Events Center.
Byers made a mini charge in the fourth quarter. However, the Grizzlies led from start to finish in a 76-61 win.
"It got a little bit wild, but we know the way Byers plays," said Fowler coach Mark Lowther. "They're going to full-court and run and jump you the whole time and they pushed the tempo. Early on, we handled it well, then we had some spurts in the third quarter when time wasn't going off the clock fast enough. But we pulled it in and did what we needed to do to get the win."
Val Leone scored Fowler's first points, but Hayden McCuen, Byers' 6-10 center, split at the line.
The Grizzlies then ran off 11 straight points, with Quinton Flanscha scoring two 3-point baskets and Johnathan Mobbley making one.
Zaine Mikita scored two baskets to pull the Bulldogs within 15-5. The teams then traded baskets before Gabriel Proctor drained a three for a 22-9 Grizzly lead at the end of the first quarter.
Rhett Davis and Brady Shelley both scored for Byers. However, Fowler went on a 12-5 run to open up a 34-18 lead. The Bulldogs scored four points in the final 31 seconds of the second quarter, but the Grizzlies led 36-22 at halftime.
Fowler continued to pour it on in the third quarter, outscoring Byers 10-4 to extend its lead to 46-26. The Bulldogs scored five points, but the Grizzlies countered with a 5-0 run of its own.
The teams traded baskets until Davis scored a layup and added a free throw. Mobbley's hook shot in the lane gave Fowler a 55-36 lead after the third period.
Drew Egan scored the first points of the fourth, but Shelley made two 3-pointers to reduce the Grizzlies' lead to 57-42 with 5:57 left in the game.
Byers got as close as a 12-point deficit, but Fowler converted some key free throws late in the game.
Four Grizzlies scored in double figures. Flansha led the team with 18 points, followed by Mobbley with 17, Leone with 12 and Proctor with 11.
Shelley led all scorers with 21 points and Mikita scored 15.
Fowler (21-4) will play Yuma, the defending state champion, at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Yuma defeated Denver Christian Thursday, 47-38.
"It's good for our kids to get a first-round win because that hasn't happened in a long time," Lowther said. "Now we can relax a little bit and watch those two teams play and then get a game plan for Friday."
Fowler 76, Byers 61
Byers - Shelley 8 2-2 21, Davis 4 1-3 9, Mikita 6 3-3 15, Miller 1 0-0 2, McCuen 3 1-2 7, Eymann 1 0-0 3, Becker 0 0-0 0, Gierwateski 0 0-0 0, Kerns 1 0-0 3, Turrell 0 1-2 1, Linnebur 0 0-0 0, Messer 0 0-0 0. Total 24 8-12 61.