Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
Sports@lhvc.com 

Cougars beat Longmont for the first time since 2007

 

February 8, 2017

Photo by Ed Navarro Niwot’s J.J. Kolakowski shoots over a Silver Creek defender.

The last time the Niwot boys basketball team beat the Longmont Trojans—on January 12, 2007—the world was a much different place. Earlier that week, on the 9th, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone to the world for the first time, though devices wouldn’t reach customers for another six months. And later that week, on the 16th, Barack Obama, a relatively unknown junior senator from Illinois, launched an exploratory committee to asses a potential bid for his party’s nomination in the 2008 presidential election. (Incidentally, Donald Trump received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that same day, his budding feud with Rosie O’Donnell notwithstanding.)

All of which is to say it’s been a while.

Nineteen losses later, head coach Preston Hardy and his team decided enough was enough.

“We had 19 chairs stacked in the in the locker room as a symbol,” said Hardy. “We kept saying to each other we’re not going to stack 20.”

“This was a burden we wanted to take on,” he continued. “We wanted to get these losses in the past, and change the stigma around Niwot basketball in the community.”

The Cougars certainly played like a team on a mission in front of a packed home crowd last Friday night. A fast-paced first half ended in a 29-29 tie, with six Cougars on the scoreboard, including sophomore Thomas Bounds, who had seven first half points, on his way to 12 on the night.

A 9-2 scoring run by the Trojans early in the third had the Cougars down seven, but they would climb back to within two (45-47) by quarter’s end. In the fourth, senior Adam Barber exploded for 14 of his 20 total points, including four in the final minute, as the Cougars came from behind to beat Longmont 64-63.

“I’m just so proud of the way the boys executed,” said Hardy following the game. “Longmont’s 19th in the RPI for a reason, and for our boys to take punches like they did, I couldn’t be prouder.”

For senior guard J.J. Kolakowski, who had eight points on the night, including two three-pointers, the win was a culmination of hard work and a renewed focus on stopping the other team. “It was definitely defense and effort,” he said. “We’ve been harping on it for a few weeks, and we finally picked it up a little bit tonight. This is definitely a big confidence boost for us,” he concluded.

It was certainly a timely one. Friday night’s big win over the Trojans followed a pummeling by Silver Creek on Jan. 31. The Raptors, with just two losses on the season, are currently in second place in the Northern League, and are 10th in the 4A RPI rankings. Niwot held the game relatively close though the first half but gave up 52 second-half points, including 33 in the 4th quarter, and eventually fell to the Raptors 76-48, their second 28-point loss in a week.

For Hardy, though, the Longmont win paints a more accurate picture of his team. “We took it on the chin from Silver Creek and Northridge, two very good teams” he explained. “But tonight we realized we can play with anyone.”

It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of Niwot’s win over the Trojans, especially as the team hits the final stretch of the year. But Hardy said he needs to make sure his team stays focused on the ultimate goal: the post-season.

“This can’t be our peak, this isn’t our end-all-be-all,” he stressed. “At this point, we just have to understand the kind of work it’s going to take to keep getting wins in February.”

Niwot has three tough road matches next week, at Mountain View on Feb. 7, Thompson Valley on Feb. 9, and then a rematch at Silver Creek on Feb. 11.

(1/31) — Silver Creek 76, Niwot 48

Silver Creek (14-2, 6-2) 7 17 19 33 — 76

Niwot (8-9, 3-3) 3 13 13 19 — 48

Thomas Bounds 7 4-4 22, J.J. Kolakowski 3 4-5 12, Adam Barber 5 0-0 10, Cameron Carlson 1 0-0 2, Jesse Falk 1 0-0 2 Totals 17 8-9 48

(2/3) — Niwot 64, Longmont 63

Longmont (9-8, 6-4) 15 14 18 16 — 63

Niwot (9-9, 5-4) 12 17 16 19 — 64

Adam Barber 7 6-8 20, Thomas Bounds 5 0-0 12, Jake Sims 3 0-0 6, J.J. Kolakowski 3 0-0 8, Jesse Falk 2 0-0 5, Cameron Carlson 2 0-0 4, Max Towlen 1 0-0 3, Ethan Radatz 1 0-0 2 Alex Helgeland 0 1-2 1 Totals 24 8-12 64

 

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