Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
sports@lhvc.com 

Cougars lose big to Northridge, but bounce back against Greeley Central

 

February 3, 2017

Photo by Ed Navarro Niwot guard J.J. Kolakowski breaks away for a layup against Greeley Central.

Niwot boys basketball Coach Preston Hardy knew his team faced an uphill climb on the road against the Northridge Grizzlies last Tuesday night.

“They are good, real good,” he said ahead of last week’s matchup.

But following the Cougars’ 76-48 loss to the Grizzlies, he became convinced that Northridge is a state championship contender.

“They are by far the best team that we’ve played,” he said. “Their seniors have been playing varsity since their sophomore year, and that experience is really paying off for them.”

It certainly helped them against the Cougars. All night long, Niwot struggled on both sides of the ball. The team turned in one of its worst offensive efforts of the season, shooting just 15-for-58 (26%) from the floor, including 5-for-28 from three point range. The Cougars also managed just 23 total rebounds.

Sophomore Thomas Bounds led the Cougars in scoring, with 13 points, despite a 22% field-goal percentage on the night. Senior Adam Barber had eight points and five rebounds, while junior center Cameron Carlson matched his five boards, and chipped in six points. Seniors Jake Sims (5) and Ethan Radatz (4) combined for another nine. Meanwhile, sophomore Dominik Luthens scored the first point of his varsity career, going 1-for-3 from the line.

It was a different story for the Cougars in their next matchup, a 64-41 home win over the Greeley Central Wildcats on Jan. 27. Niwot claimed its first conference victory against the Wildcats (4-12) back on Jan. 3, and were hoping to bounce back after the thumping at Northridge.

“We regained our momentum against Greeley Central,” said Hardy. “The boys played hard and they played together.”

The Cougars pounced early and often, scoring 37 first-half points, their highest of the season. The Niwot defense smothered the Wildcats in the second half, holding them scoreless in the third quarter, which is unusual at the varsity level.

“At halftime we discussed how important creating separation would be in the third quarter,” he said. “It was a complete team defensive effort.”

Bounds led all players in scoring, with 16, and went 7-of-7 from the line. He currently leads the Northern League in three-point shots made (41), and his 12.6 ppg average is good for seventh-best.

Barber notched his first double-double of the season, with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He also had two blocks and a steal on the night. Sims (11) and senior Jesse Falk (10) also hit double-digits for Niwot, and were responsible for five of the team’s seven three-pointers. Senior J.J. Kolakowski, meanwhile, had six boards, five assists, and eight points.

Hardy pointed to a transformation in his team’s mentality as a major factor in the team’s improvement.

“We went into the GC game expecting to win,” he explained. “I do not believe our boys had that same mentality going into the Northridge game.”

“I believe the biggest turnaround was all mental,” he continued. “We have to believe we can win before we can win.”

The victory comes at an opportune time for the Cougars, who face another tough stretch in their conference schedule. On Jan. 31, the Cougars host Silver Creek, currently second in the Northern League. After that, they face a rematch against Longmont, which beat them 57-41 on Jan. 10.

Hardy downplayed the rivalry angle of these games, noting that most of the players are friendly on and off the court, and remain in close touch due to social media. He also knows that it’s hard for a rivalry to be taken seriously when the results “are so one-sided.”

“We are 9-11 since 2005 vs Silver Creek. We have lost 19 games in a row versus Longmont,” he said. “The boys are well aware of these stats and we are prepared to attack this week with focus and dedication.”

Up next for the Cougars are home games against Silver Creek (12-2) on Jan. 31, and Longmont (8-7) on Feb. 3.

(1/24) — Northridge 76, Niwot 48

Niwot (7-8, 3-3) 13 11 15 9 — 48

Northridge (12-3, 6-0) 25 17 19 15 — 76

Thomas Bounds 5 1-2 13, Adam Barber 2 3-4 8, Cameron -Carlson 2 2-2 6, Jake Sims 1-3-3 5, Ethan Radatz 2 0-0 4, Alec Helgeland 1 2-4 4, J.J. Kolakowski 1 0-0 3, Max Towlen 1 0-0 3, Dominik Luthens 0 1-3 1, Jesse Falk 0 1-2 1 Totals 15 13-20 48

(1/27) — Niwot 64, Greeley Central 41

Greeley Central (4-12, 2-6) 15 13 0 13 — 41

Niwot (8-8, 4-3) 17 20 14 13 — 64

Thomas Bounds 4 7-7 16, Adam Barber 5 2-2 13, Jake Sims 3 2-2 11, Jesse Falk 4 0-0 10, J.J. Kolakowski 2 4-4 8, Max Towlen 2 0-0 4, Connor Ryan 0 2-2 2 Totals 20 17-19 64

 

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