NIWOT -- Niwot High officials took a moment before Tuesday night's boys basketball game to recognize the 20th anniversary of the Cougars' 1993 state title -- including a special mention for Silver Creek coach Bob Banning, who coached that NHS championship squad.
Then the visiting SCHS Raptors went out and made sure their coach ended the night with the same big smile with which he began it.
The Raptors closed the game on a 19-4 run to blow open what had been a back-and-forth affair for a 68-55 victory.
"We knew it would be big for coach to get a win for him," SCHS senior Brock Johnson said.
Johnson scored a career-high 18 points, including nine in the second quarter, to help the Raptors improve to 8-3 overall and 2-1 in Northern League play.
Niwot, meanwhile, fell to 4-7 overall and 0-3 in conference play.
The Raptors appeared as though they might cruise after taking a 33-25 lead into halftime. Trailing 19-13 after a quarter, Johnson opened the second with seven straight points, and SCHS held Niwot to just one field goal in the frame.
"I think Brock played with a lot of hunger tonight and senior leadership," said Banning, who also noted that his seniors as a group have showed a bit of a sense of urgency of late. "I think it showed a lot in their play tonight."
Niwot reeled off eight points in a row to start the third quarter and even led 51-49 after a pair of Charlie Mitelhaus free throws with 5 minutes, 32 seconds to play in the game.
But it was all Raptors from there as SCHS gave Niwot fits with its full-court pressure defense.
"We're trying to play with discipline, play with poise," Niwot coach Travis Maron said. "We're lacking in that area, and that falls on me. We've just got to keep working on it."
After being kept quiet in the third quarter, Johnson turned in four points as Niwot pushed its lead from 57-52 to 63-52 and essentially put the game away.
"I knew we needed a lift. These games are big," Johnson said of his career night. "It was a tough game. Niwot played really good. We knew it was going to be that way."
Fellow senior Trey Fleming, who sat much of the game after committing three fouls in the first quarter, finished with 11 points to complement Johnson. Junior Eric Machmuller had 10. And Goforth, another senior, finished with eight, including the first four of the decisive 19-4 run to give the Raptors the lead for good.
Niwot's Clarke Colwell led all scorers with 19 points, including a 3-pointer that made it 41-38 Cougars late in the third quarter. Jordan Keeler added 12 points, and Nate Merriman led the way for NHS on the boards with nine rebounds.
The Cougars, who have now lost four in a row, out-rebounded Silver Creek 35-20, unofficially, but had a tough shooting night all around, going just 17 for 51 from the floor.
"We still have more than half our games to play," Maron said. "This thing can be turned around. It's all fixable stuff."
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Silver Creek 68, Niwot 55
At Niwot HS
SILVER CREEK (8-3, 2-1)
Lindsey 3 0-0 7, Fleming 4 2-4 11, Machmuller 1 7-10 10, Johnson 4 9-13 18, Grine 2 0-0 5, Goforth 3 2-2 8, Campbell 0 0-0 0, White 0 2-2 2, Tarin 2 3-4 7, Wright 0 0-0 0, Sjobakken 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 25-35 68.
NIWOT (4-7, 0-3)
A. Hart 0 0-0 0, Keeler 4 2-2 12, Lee 2 3-4 7, Merriman 3 1-1 7, Mitelhaus 0 2-2 2, Kalakowski 1 1-2 4, Bounds 2 0-1 4, Colwell 5 6-10 19, J. Hart 0 0-2 0. Totals 17 15-24 55.
Score by quarters: Silver Creek 13 20 12 23 -- 68
Niwot 19 6 20 10 -- 55
3-point field goals -- Silver Creek (5): Lindsey, Fleming, Machmuller, Johnson, Grine; Niwot (6): Colwell 3, Keeler 2, Kolakowski. Total fouls -- Silver Creek 19, Niwot 20. Fouled out -- None. Technicals -- None.