Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
Sports@lhvc.com 

Clutch scoring boosts Niwot over Silver Creek

 

January 25, 2019

Jocelyn Rowley

Niwot freshman Rachel Noble attempts to block a shot against Silver Creek on Jan. 18.

No one was happier than head coach Terri Ward when the Niwot girls snapped their five-game losing streak on Jan. 18 against Silver Creek. Down by six at halftime, the Cougars came back for a 38-35 win in overtime over the Raptors, thanks to some stepped-up defense and clutch free-throw shooting. However, Ward said afterwards that how her team won the game mattered less than why they won.

“Our first half wasn’t great, and I pretty much went in and ripped them new faces,” she said. “I basically said ‘I’ve told you all I can ….The tools are out there for you, now you guys have to make a decision.’ And they made a conscious decision to flip the switch in the third quarter. I’m just very, very proud of them. We needed this more than we needed probably anything right now.”

The Cougars entered the game looking for their first win in two weeks, and on the heels of a 29-point loss to league-leading Greeley Central on Jan. 15. In that game, Niwot scored just 26 points while committing 21 turnovers.

If Ward was hopeful her team would turn things around against the struggling Raptors, it seemed unlikely in the early going. Silver Creek took advantage of a slow start by Niwot’s defense for 15 first-quarter points, and the Cougar offense couldn’t dig out of the hole.

However, their moribund first half was cancelled out by an energetic effort in the second, spurred by the coach’s challenge, according to junior Elise Gillett.

“I think that helped us decide that we wanted to come out and win in the second half and we weren’t going to let ourselves lose,” she said. “In the second half, we were communicating more and playing as a team. We were really talking and making sure that we were holding each other up, and not letting any of our mistakes bring us down.”

Niwot started to close the gap at the end of the third period. The scoring stayed close in the fourth quarter, and all the momentum seemed to be on the Cougars’ side. Still, they had trouble sustaining a lead. A breakaway layup by Gillett with about a minute to go in regulation put Niwot up by three, but the Raptors tied it up on their next possession, and the game ended tied at 31-31.

Unlike the week before, the Cougars kept their edge in the overtime period, and never trailed the Raptors. Junior post Marlow Baines got inside for four of her team-leading 12 points on the night, while Gillett and senior Elise Crall did a good job at the free-throw line.

“We did what we needed to do to win this game,” a visibly relieved Ward said afterwards. “I thought Marlow played pretty darn good. She had some key baskets at key times. We hit some free throws when we needed to hit free throws tonight, which was great.”

Seven different Niwot players scored on the night, led by Baines. Junior Lily Sieben had nine points, while Gillett (6) and Crall (4) combined for 10. However, both Gillett and her coach agreed that team defense down the stretch was key.

Jocelyn Rowley

Junior Elise Gillett waits on the sideline during the Cougars’ game against Silver Creek on Jan. 18.

“I thought we did a much better job of knowing where we were even in transition on defense,” Ward said. “We talked about that a lot. You have to be able to see the ball and see your player.”

With the win, Niwot moved to 4-10 on the year and 1-4 in conference. Though prospects for the post-season are dim, both Ward and Gillett said they believe the team’s newfound resiliency will lead to more success down the stretch.

“They made a conscious decision and I’m very proud of them for doing so,” Ward said. “They could have hung their heads after my little halftime tirade, but they didn’t. It’s never personal, and I wasn’t attacking anyone or anything. I just think I needed to make them realize they had to make the decision, not me.”

 

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