LONGMONT -- After winning a grand total of one game in the first five-plus weeks of 2013, suffice it to say the Niwot Cougars were hungry for another victory.
And the fact that that victory came over one of their rivals just made it that much more satisfying to the palate.
After losing nine of its first 10 games of the new year, the Niwot boys basketball team broke through with a 65-50 road win over Silver Creek on Friday night. The victory avenged a 13-point loss to the Raptors in mid-January.
"This feels awesome," said Niwot senior Nate Merriman, who finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. "We've kind of been building up that fire to compete in a great game, and we finally got that done.
"Especially as a senior, it's a dream come true that we come on the road and come away with a 'W' against a rival."
Three nights after falling behind 12-0 and scoring a season-low 32 points in a loss to Longmont, Niwot bolted out to a 23-8 lead on Friday and racked up its highest point total since the season opener.
And each time Silver Creek made a run, the Cougars were up to the task of fending off the Raptors. After Niwot's early surge, its lead never dropped below five points.
"After they beat us on our home floor, it's a great feeling to come in here and get that victory," said Niwot senior Austin Hart, who came off the bench to score 13 points, including 11 in the second quarter, when he drained three 3-pointers.
Last time against Silver Creek, the Cougars lost 68-55 after being tied in the fourth quarter, so Friday was a welcome change.
"Our poise and discipline were outstanding tonight," coach Travis Maron said. "I'm very, very proud of them."
With Hart and Charlie Mitelhaus leading the way with three each, the Cougars made eight treys on the night. Kyle Kolakowski (12 points) joined Merriman and Hart in double figures scoring for Niwot.
As for Silver Creek, it shot just 33 percent from the field in the second half, and made just nine of 23 free throws for the game.
"So much of basketball is a game of being good shooters and we're just not shooting the ball real well lately," said Silver Creek coach Bob Banning, who coached Niwot to a state title 20 years ago. "And I think we were getting good shots. But there's two sides to that coin, and I thought Niwot played well."
Senior Luke Goforth scored a game-high 17 points for the Raptors, while Trey Fleming added 14 and Zane Lindsey 10.
Niwot improved to 6-12 and 2-8 in the Northern League, while Silver Creek dropped to 10-9 and 4-6 after losing six of its last eight games.
Niwot will host Erie in a non-league game tonight, while Greeley Central visits Silver Creek on Tuesday.
Niwot 65, Silver Creek 50
At Silver Creek HS
NIWOT (6-12, 2-8)
F. Lee 2 3-5 7, Merriman 5 4-9 14, Kolakowski 5 1-4 12, Bounds 0 0-0 0, Colwell 3 2-2 9, Hart 4 2-2 13, Mitelhaus 3 0-0 9, J. Lee 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 13-24 65.
SILVER CREEK (10-9, 4-6)
Fleming 5 3-10 14, Johnson 1 1-4 3, Grine 0 2-2 2, Goforth 8 1-2 17, White 0 0-2 0, Lindsey 4 0-0 10, Machmuller 1 2-2 4, Tarin 0 0-0 0, Wright 0 0-1 0. Totals 19 9-23 50.
Score by quarters:
Niwot 20 17 11 17 -- 65
Silver Creek 8 20 11 11 -- 50
3-point field goals -- Niwot (8): Hart 3, Mitelhaus 3, Kolakowski, Colwell; Silver Creek (3): Lindsey 2, Fleming. Total fouls -- Niwot 21, Silver Creek 21. Fouled out -- Mitelhaus, Bounds; Lindsay. Technical fouls -- none.