The Fowler High School boys basketball team got off to a slow start when it hosted Crested Butte in the Class 2A Region 5 Tournament championship Saturday at Grizzly Gym. But the Grizzlies came alive in the fourth quarter and managed to defeat the Titans 56-46.

"We've have some really good starts and some not very good starts," said Fowler coach Mark Lowther. "The kids just stayed with it and played hard the whole way. We got them a little bit tired at the end and we were able to hit some big buckets and make our free throws at the end so they couldn't catch up to us."

Crested Butte took an early 8-0 lead, but the Grizzlies closed to within 8-6. The Titans, however, went on a 5-0 run to lead 13-6 at the end of the first period.

The Grizzlies closed their deficit to 13-10 to begin the second quarter. The Titans then scored three straight baskets to take their largest lead of the game at 20-10.

Fowler answered by scoring eight consecutive points. Crested Butte's Ethan Bacani made a pair of free throws, but Val Leone split at the line. Johnathan Mobbley then made a short jumper at the buzzer to close the gap to 22-21 at halftime.

The Grizzlies came out on fire for the third quarter, scoring the first seven points to take a 28-22 lead. Crested Butte, however, went on an 8-1 run to go back in front at 30-29.

The teams exchanged the lead three time before the Grizzlies took a 35-34 edge at the end of the third.

The Grizzlies and Titans exchanged the lead three more times early in the fourth quarter. Fowler then went on a 7-2 run for a 47-40 advantage with 4:11 left in the game.

Crested Butte scored two straight baskets to close the margin to three points. But the Grizzlies scored six points in a row to extend their lead to 53-44 with 1:41 to play.

Alan Prieto ended the run, but Fowler scored the final three points to take the 10-point victory.

Mobbley led the Grizzlies with 21 points and Leone was next with 17. Bacani led the Titans with 13 points and Erik Wasinger scored 11.

Fowler 59, West Grand 36

The Grizzlies defeated West Grand in the semifinals 59-36 Friday, also at Grizzly Gym.

The Grizzlies opened the game with the first six points. Charlie Multerer scored West Grand's first points, but Fowler answered with eight straight points to increase the lead to 14-2.

The Mustangs scored five points in a row, but the Grizzlies scored the final nine points of the first quarter for a 23-7 advantage.

The teams exchanged scoring to begin the second quarter. West Grand, however, scored the final five points of the period to cut Fowler's lead to 34-21 at halftime.

Leone scored the first 10 point of the third quarter to push the lead to 44-21. After Gabe Torres split at the line for the Mustangs, the Grizzlies scored the next five points for a 49-22 advantage.

West Grand scored the final four points of the period to reduce Fowler's lead to 49-26.

Fowler took its largest lead of the game at 59-31 with 3:09 left in the game. West Grand scored the final five points.

Leone led the Grizzlies with 23 points and Mobbley was next with 21. Jesus Dominguez led the Mustangs with 17.

State is next

With the two wins, Fowler (22-2) has qualified for the Class 2A State Tournament for the second straight year.

"There's a lot of teams that are just about even in the state," Lowther said. "So I think from a 1 to an 8 for us, it doesn't matter. We just need to have three good days of practice and get prepared for our next opponent."

The tournament will be played at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.

Fowler 59, West Grand 36

West Grand — R. Dominguez 1 0-0 3, J. Dominguez 5 4-8 17, Castillo 1 0-0 2, Heeney 0 0-0 0, Multerer 2 0-0 4, Castenon 1 0-0 2, Torres 0 1-2 1, Sanchez 0 0-0 0, Buller 0 2-2 2, Schake 0 0-0 0, Shearer 0 0-0 0, Warren 3 0-0 6. Total 13 7-12 36.

3-point goals — J. Dominguez 2, R. Dominguez 1.

Fowler — Bitter 2 1-2 5, Proctor 2 2-2 8, Leone 8 7-7 23, B. Bates 1 0-0 2, Mobbley 8 5-6 21, Milberger 0 0-0 0, Griffy 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Smith 0 0-0 0, J. Bates 0 0-0 0, Hernandez 0 0-0 0, J. Manchego 0 0-0 0, B. Manchego 0 0-0 0, Roe 0 0-0 0. Total 21 15-17 59.

3-point goals — Proctor 2, Mobbley 1.

West Grand 7 14 5 10 — 36

Fowler 23 11 15 10 — 59

Fouls — West Grand 17, Fowler 13.

Fowler 56, Crested Butte 46

Crested Butte — Franco 1 0-0 3, Bacani 5 2-2 13, Wasinger 4 1-2 11, White 4 0-0 8, Prieto 2 0-1 5, Penney 2 0-1 4, Smith 1 0-0 2. Total 17 3-6 46.

3-point goals — Wasinger 2, Bacani 1, Franco 1, Prieto 1.

Fowler — Bitter 2 0-0 5, Proctor 2 1-2 6, Leone 5 7-9 17, B. Bates 1 2-3 4, Mobbley 7 7-10 21, Smith 1 0-0 3, J. Bates 0 0-0 0. Total 18 17-21 56.

3-point goals — Bitter 1, Proctor 1, Smith 1.

Crested Butte 13 9 12 12 — 46

Fowler 6 15 14 21 — 56

Fouls — Crested Butte 23, Fowler 16. Fouled out — Smith, White.

khamrick@ljtdmail.com