By Jocelyn Rowley 

Boys Basketball: Niwot falls to 1-9 after going winless at Roughrider Shootout


January 11, 2018

Jocelyn Rowley

Junior Tommy Bounds takes the ball up court against Denver West at the Roughrider Shootout on Jan. 6.

It was a rough ride for the Niwot boys basketball team at last weekend’s fourth annual Roughrider Shootout at Roosevelt High School.

The Cougars went 0-3 at the round-robin tournament, losing on successive days to Skyview, Conifer, and Denver West, and extending their losing streak to eight games. Though their play improved over the weekend, a lack of consistent effort was once again the Cougars’ undoing, according to head coach Eric Hejl.

“When we don’t play with confidence, we have a really hard time,” he said after his team lost 55-47 to the Conifer Lobos on Friday. “That’s something we’ve really worked on a lot, trying to be confident even when things aren’t going their way.”

Lack of consistency aptly describes the Cougars’ play throughout the weekend. In Thursday’s tournament-opener against Skyview, a lethargic Niwot squad shot just 28 percent from the floor and went to the foul line only once in a 48-25 blowout loss. In a performance Hejl termed “passive” and “lacking energy,” the Cougars struggled on both sides of the ball, but were decidedly worse on offense.

An up-tempo Niwot team took the floor against Conifer on Friday, and dominated play on both sides of the ball for the first two quarters. Led by senior Cam Carlson and junior Dom Luthens, the Cougars scored 24 first half points, nearly eclipsing their total output against Skyview the day before. With a solid eight-point lead at the break, Niwot’s losing streak looked likely to end.

Unfortunately for the Cougars and their fans, whatever Conifer coach Eric Valerio said to his team in the locker room at halftime was effective. The Lobos ratcheted up the defensive pressure in the opening minutes of the third quarter, forcing turnovers that they then converted into points. By halfway through the period, Conifer had turned their eight-point deficit into a four-point lead, and Niwot was never able to make the adjustment. Despite a spark from junior Alex Erikson and sophomore Cooper Sheldon in the fourth quarter, Niwot fell to the Lobos 55-47.

“There’s losses you can live with and you can swallow a bit easier, and yesterday was not one of those,” Hejl said after the Conifer game. “Today was a very frustrating loss. I wouldn’t call it an acceptable loss, because I think we were a better team than the one we were playing, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Erikson, who had five fourth-quarter points against the Lobos, echoed his coach’s sentiment about consistent effort.

“I feel the team responded really well in the first half,” he said. “It’s just maintaining the response. We have to keep the energy up for the entire game, not just three of the four quarters.”

Niwot’s losing streak was again briefly in danger of ending on Saturday, when the Cougars nearly pulled off a surprising late-game upset of the Denver West Cowboys. Down 10 points early in the fourth quarter, the Cougars clawed their way back to a 59-59 tie with less than a minute remaining. But as has happened so many times before this season, the Cougars could not close the deal, and fell 62-59 to the Cowboys for their ninth straight loss.

Junior captain Thomas Bounds, whose 13 second-half points helped spark the unlikely comeback, was also unhappy with his team’s lack of consistent effort.

“I think we’ve had two halves all year when we’ve shown what we can play with,” he said. “We just need to figure out a way to come together more. That second half, when we were pressing, shows what we can do.”

Up next for the Cougars is a three-game road trip beginning at Longmont on Jan. 9. The Cougars head to Mountain View on Jan.12, then back up to Loveland to face Thompson Valley on Jan. 16.

(1/5) — Skyview 48, Niwot 25

Wolverines (5-4, 0-0) 14 13 11 10 — 48

Cougars (1-7, 0-1) 4 6 10 5 — 60

Carlson 4 0-0 8, Luthens 2 0-0 4, Hyatt 1 0-0 3, Bounds 1 0-0 3, Erikson 1 0-0 3, Oliver 2 0-0-2, Totals 11 0-1 25.

(1/6) — Conifer 55, Niwot 47

Lobos (4-8, 0-0) 7 17 6 17 — 47

Cougars (1-8, 0-1) 7 10 19 19 — 55

Luthens 6 2-2 14, Carlson 6 0-0 12, Bounds 2 4-4 9, Erikson 1 2-2 5, Nagula 2 0-0 5, Ostwald 2 0-1 2, Sheldon 0 0-1 0, Totals 18 08-10 47.

(1/7) — Denver West 62, Niwot 59

Cougars (1-9, 0-1) 13 13 14 19 — 59

Cowboys (2-10, 0-0) 18 15 13 16 — 62

Jocelyn Rowley

Dominick Luthens (14), Tyler Crall and Milo Ostwald (21) on defense against Denver West at the Roughrider Shootout on Jan. 6.


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