NIWOT — Preston Hardy will take it.
But he will quickly let you know, win No. 1 as the Niwot basketball coach on Tuesday night against Skyview wasn't about him.
"These seniors have had three coaches in four years and we talk about wanting to leave a legacy and we look up at that banner everyday and see that 1994 was the last time this school won a league championship," said Hardy, whose Cougars rallied for a 46-45 win over the Wolverines.
"We want to do something special here and even if that means this year is planting roots, it's going to be on these seniors backs. It was our first win."
The first half looked like and played out like the first game of the season for both teams. And is was Skyview that took advantage of early Niwot foul trouble, taking a 26-16 lead to the break.
Hardy, who kept his halftime speech, but admitted his team had to adjust to the way the referees were calling the game, watched the lead grow to 13 points midway through the third quarter ... then the light came on.
"In the second half, we rode our horses," he said.
The Cougars (1-0) set the tone for the fourth quarter by closing out the third on a 12-3 run over the final 4:31. Ryan Kannegieter hit the first three-pointer of the game to spark it and big baskets by Walker Bounds, Michael Agado, Jackson Kolakowski and Adam Barber drew Niwot to within 36-32 with eight minutes to play.
"We really battled through some adversity after being down 10 points at the half and came together as a team and played team defense to win this game," said Bounds, who was the lone Niwot player in double figures with 11.
On a night when Hardy dressed 14 and played 13, he got contributions from his bench in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback. Junior Ty Vigil tied the game 37-all with 4:53 to play, knocking down a huge three-pointer for his only points of the game.
"That kids has been through so much," Hardy said. "That was a proud moment and I'm getting goose-bumps thinking about that."
The Cougars took the lead for good with 2:00 to play. Barber's steal at midcourt and assist to a streaking Kannegieter put Niwot up for the first time.
Skyview (0-1) turned the ball over nine times in the second half and a majority of those were down the stretch. The Wolverines, who were led by Tyler Hepner's 12 points, had their chances late, but couldn't get anything to drop.
The aforementioned Niwot bench players, notably Danoto Rios and Noah Radatz, came in and salted the game away with clutch free throws in the finals seconds.
Niwot 46, Skyview 45
Derik Studer 1 4-4 7, Deyvon Butler 0 0-0 0, Tyler Hepner 3 4-5 12, Isaac Valdez 0 0-0 0, Edgar Robles 1 4-5 6, Ray Johnson 1 1-2 4, Dennis Gonzales 0 0-0 0, Darrien Bing 2 1-3 6, Joey Bauderer 3 4-7 10. Totals 11 18-26 45.
Jackson Kolakowski 1 0-0 3, Danoto Rios 0 2-2 2, Jacob Sims 0 0-0 0, Joseph Ho 1 2-2 4, Walker Bounds 5 1-3 11, Alec Helgeland 1 0-2 2, Noah Radatz 0 2-4 2, Ryan Kannegieter 3 0-0 7, Adam Barber 2 2-2 6, Michael Agado 2 0-0 4, Roberto Ramirez 0 2-2 2, Ty Vigil 1 0-0 3, Shane Ryan 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 11-17 46.
Score by quarters:Skyview 13 13 10 9 — 45 Niwot 9 7 16 14 — 46
3-point field goals — Skyview (5): Hepner 2, Studer, Johnson, Bing; Niwot (3): Kolakowski, Kannegieter, Vigil. Total fouls — Skyview 16; Niwot 24.