LAFAYETTE -- After winning its first five games of the season, then dropping three of the last four, the Longmont boys basketball team needed a little pick-me-up.
And Friday night's 66-46 victory at Centaurus fit the bill quite nicely.
Coming off consecutive losses to teams ranked in the state's top 10 in Class 4A, the Trojans bolted out to a 9-0 lead, then used 10 unanswered points later in the first half to blow the game open.
"When you lose three out of four and you've played some really good teams, and they kind of put a whuppin' on you, your confidence becomes a little bit rattled," veteran LHS coach Jeff Kloster said. "But we had really good practices Wednesday and Thursday, so we were hopeful that it would carry over into tonight's ball game. And I thought the intensity, the way we shared the ball and the way we played defense for the most part was pretty exceptional."
The victory was at least the eighth consecutive for Longmont in the series against Centaurus. While the Trojans improved to 7-3 this season, and 2-2 in the Northern League, CHS dropped its sixth consecutive contest, falling to 3-10 and 0-4.
On Friday, Longmont quickly put Centaurus behind the 8-ball by scoring the first nine points of the contest. Then when the Warriors crept within five in the second quarter after a 3-pointer by Steven Jordan, the Trojans used a 10-0 run to leave no doubt who was in charge.
"Unfortunately (starting slow) has become our M.O. in some of our games this year," first-year CHS coach Brandon Gullicksrud said. "We'll have a rough quarter, then we'll put a flurry together and battle back," only to come up short.
With junior Austin Kemp driving hard to the basket en route to a game-high 17 points, and 6-4, 255-pound senior center Marcus Johnson adding 15, Longmont scored plenty on the inside. The Trojans ended up shooting 55 percent from the field.
"The game plan was layup first, then look for the outside shots," Kemp said. "Since we've got our big guys -- Marcus and Kevin (Mitchell) -- we used them to our advantage tonight down low."
Johnson was particularly effective around the basket, using his physical presence to score all 15 of his points in the first three quarters.
"He is a threat," Kloster said. "For a kid who is 255 pounds, he's a quick jumper and he's very athletic. Sometimes I think he becomes too unselfish instead of saying, 'I'm going to take the ball game over and when I get the ball inside I'm going to go attack.' That's the thing we're trying to get him to understand."
Junior Trey Puckett led Centaurus with 13 points, but the Warriors were no match for LHS, especially with turning the ball over 22 times and going the entire game without scoring from the free-throw line.
Longmont 66, Centaurus 46
At Centaurus HS
LONGMONT (7-3, 2-2)
Alaniz 2 0-0 4, Jessup 4 0-0 9, Donaldson 3 2-3 8, Kemp 6 5-5 17, Johnson 7 1-2 15, Sterkel 2 0-0 5, Mitchell 2 0-0 4, Speidel 1 0-0 2, Rothe 1 0-0 2. Totals 28 8-10 66.
CENTAURUS (3-10, 0-4)
Matosky 3 0-0 6, Puckett 5 0-1 13, Taudien 4 0-0 8, Jordan 3 0-0 9, DeVries 1 0-0 2, Milano 1 0-0 2, Esler 1 0-0 2, Rowsam 1 0-0 2, Bradford 0 0-0 0, Koch 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 0-1 46.
Score by quarters:
Longmont 19 18 14 15 -- 66
Centaurus 11 12 7 16 -- 46
3-point field goals -- Longmont (2): Jessup, Sterkel; Centaurus (6): Jordan 3, Puckett 3. Total fouls -- Longmont 10, Centaurus 10. Fouled out -- none. Technical fouls --none.