LONGMONT — It was a wire-to-wire win for the Silver Creek boys basketball team on Friday night against Skyline, but Bob Banning's Raptors were definitely walking a tightrope, too.
In front of a lively crowd at the SCHS gym as both teams closed out their pre-holiday competition, the Raptors never trailed in a 46-41 win that brought them to 3-3 on the year.
But finishing off the feisty Falcons was not an easy task despite being up double digits in the fourth quarter. With just a handful of possessions determining the final outcome, Silver Creek got a big closing layup from Anthony Kasper as part of his 14-point night to finally allow itself to breathe.
"They kept nudging their way back into it, and you have to credit Skyline for keeping us from doing what we wanted to do a lot of the time," said Banning, whose team led 42-32 with just more than 2 minutes to go in the contest. "It was pretty loud in that gym, and I think we're just going to have to learn to communicate through our team and through the bench a bit better.
"We'll take it, though, especially before the break."
It was a physical game with plenty of contested shots around and underneath the basket — some would call it a slugfest. But Skyline actually got back in the game by way of the 3-pointer, hitting five of them after the half.
Nate Higgins sunk two treys within 20 seconds of each other to put Skyline within 44-38 at the 1:33 mark of the fourth frame, and Josh Angstead had a traditional 3-point chance with 1:15 left that could have made 44-41, though he missed the free throw.
That was an all too common theme for the Falcons — as they missed 14 of 23 free throw attempts for the game.
"Our kids showed good resiliency, but the unfortunate part is we missed 14 free throws and I think 16 shots at the rim," said first-year Skyline coach Tyler Cerveny, whose team was led by Braden Blick's 13 points. "We get out of there with a win if we make those concentration plays. Our kids have to learn how to win, that's just the next step for us."
Rhythm Ajanku scored 12 points for Silver Creek, including a couple of tough buckets in the third quarter after Skyline had pulled to within 20-19. He also made two free throws with just 1:49 left in the game that helped stave off the visitors.
But the senior still felt the Raptors can learn from late-game mistakes.
"Our identity as Silver Creek is defense first, and a smart team, and I think we struggled with that toward the end," Ajanku said. "It was an emotional game, and we didn't play 100 percent every possession."
Trent Dykema added 13 points for Silver Creek in the win.
Silver Creek 46, Skyline 41
At Silver Creek HS
Kyle Nilsen 0 3-4 3, Nate Higgins 3 0-3 8, Braden Blick 4 2-8 13, Ben Hall 0 0-0 0, Josh Angstead 2 3-6 7, Hunter Gutierrez 2 0-0 5, Matt Dietz 2 1-2 5. Totals 13 9-23 41.
SILVER CREEK (3-3)
Rhythm Ajanku 4 3-7 12, Nick Hartman 0 0-0 0, Reese Barracks 0 0-0 0, Anthony Kasper 6 2-4 14, Trent Dykema 4 3-4 13, Andrew Rapp 2 0-1 4, Sam Schlegel 0 0-0 0, Khari Harrison 0 0-0 0, Christian Warner 0 0-0 0, Carter Blink 1 0-0 3. Totals 17 8-16 46.
Score by quarters:Skyline 6 5 11 19 — 41
Silver Creek 12 6 10 18 — 46
3-point field goals — Skyline (6): Blick 3, Higgins 2, Gutierrez; Silver Creek (4): Dykema 2, Ajanku, Blink. Fouled out — Dietz.