LAKEWOOD — When Longmont Christian's Luke Puchino makes a mistake on the basketball court, he doesn't point fingers.
He owns it. Then he makes it right.
An overzealous foul and a reactionary technical foul that cost his team the lead late in Tuesday's game against Denver Christian left Puchino squarely on the hook for what was potentially the Warriors' first loss of the season. But Puchino, who earlier hit the shot to put his team up in the first place, got the lead back just over a minute later and the Warriors went on to win 59-54.
"For a second, I let my team down in that moment," Puchino said. "But then I decided it was on me to put my team on my back and take this one for us. It wasn't our best game but when we had stretches that weren't very good, we fought and fought and we got the win."
The Warriors (6-0, 1-0 Mile High), who are averaging 72.2 points per game, are ranked fourth in 1A in the latest CHSAANow.com poll and have already matched their win total from all of last season. If there was any worry the Warriors' undefeated start would peter out following the holiday break, the Warriors put those concerns to bed in their return to action. But they didn't do it right away.
The game was tied 28-28 at halftime and the Crusaders (1-2) took a one-point lead after Puchino's technical foul with 3:51 left in the game. Puchino, who finished with 22 points, then stole the ball and converted a 3-point play at the other end to reclaim the lead for the Warriors with 2:26 remaining. After a Crusaders free throw, a layup from senior Croation transfer Antun Maricevic put the Warriors up for good with 1:44 on the clock.
"It was ugly," Warriors head coach Myron Huey said. "But we won."
Maricevic (32 ppg) led all scorers with 23 points, including six in the final three minutes.
A tournament in Alaska is up next on the schedule for the Warriors.
Longmont Christian 59, Denver Christian 54
At Denver Christian School
LONGMONT CHRISTIAN (6-0, 1-0)
Solem 4 1-2 9, Puchino 4 11-13 22, Jauregui 2 1-2 5, Hannan 0 0-0 0, Shaefer 0 0-1 0, B. Azar 0 0-0 0, M. Azar 0 0-0 0, Maricevic 10 3-7 23. Totals 20 16-25 59.
DENVER CHRISTIAN (1-2)
Mukokomani 4 6-9 14, Chalmers 2 0-0 6, Kaemingk 1 0-0 3, Natelborg 0 0-0 0, Booysen 4 2-4 11, Neu 2 0-0 4, Jonker 2 1-4 5, Quinn 3 4-4 11. Totals 18 13-21 54.
Score by quarters:Longmont Christian 10 18 11 20 — 59
3-point field goals — Longmont Christian (3): Puchino 3; Denver Christian (5): Chalmers 2, Kaemingk, Booysen, Quinn. Total fouls — Longmont Christian 16, Denver Christian 22. Technical fouls — Puchino.