LONGMONT — Centaurus and Silver Creek boy's basketball teams are trending in the opposite directions.
And Tuesday night's Northern League game at Silver Creek was a microcosm of the season for both of them. A hot start by the Warriors, that had them up by as much as eight points early in the fourth quarter, fizzled away down the stretch.
Silver Creek, minus three of its rotation regulars, stepped it up on the defensive side of the ball in the final six minutes and rallied for a 41-36 victory to win their sixth game in the last seven outings.
"I thought our kids rose to the occasion. We had a nice win against Niwot and we are young team and I think that drained us a little," said Silver Creek coach Bob Banning, whose team improved to 8-4 overall and 2-1 inside the league. "They came out and played really hard, and that didn't surprise me.
"We were really trying to find ourselves, but when push came to shove, our defense got a lot of run-outs and that made the difference in the game."
Centaurus, which jumped out to a 10-3 first quarter lead and forced the Raptors to play catch-up all night, saw its lead stretch to 30-22 to start the fourth quarter.
A technical foul called on Silver Creek's Khari Harrison for hanging on the rim after a missed dunk turned into a four point possession on the other end by Centaurus' Logan Platt.
What could have turned into a huge momentum lift for coach Travis Maron's team instead seemed to fire up the Raptors, who went on a 19-5 run in the final six minutes — utilizing their press as well as their size inside with Andrew Rapp and Sam Schelegel to frustrate the Warriors.
"(The missed dunk) was a strong play to get us fired up," Banning said. "It energized my kids in the right way."
Centaurus (4-6, 0-3) had handled the Silver Creek press well for three quarters, but got a little careless when it mattered most. The Warriors turned the ball over eight times in the final eight minutes, including two steals at half court that let to uncontested lay-ups on the other end.
"We are at a place now, where we are competing, we just need to learn how to finish," Maron said. "We just have to have a poise and a belief in ourselves down the stretch and being in games like this will continue to build that."
With under two minutes to play, Silver Creek senior point guard Anthony Kaspar made the play of the game. He made one of the aforementioned steals and finished at the other end to give his team the lead 37-35.
"Our team relies on defense, that's our big thing and obviously if we are not playing good 'D', we are giving up a lot," said Kaspar, who lead the Raptors with 13 points. "To be able to have that team that can come hard defensively that late in a came to get us a win is huge."
Schelegel came off the bench and was the only other Silver Creek player in double figures, he finished with 10.
Centaurus was paced by Platt's 15 points.
Silver Creek 41, Centaurus 36
At Silver Creek
CENTAURUS (4-6, 0-3)
Eric Gambon 2 0-0 5, Logan Platt 5 4-4 15, Gunnar Bickel 0 0-0 0, Trevor Klaus 2 0-0 4, Patrick Beasley 0 1-2 1, Josh Negrey 0 0-0 0, Shyreef Robbins 0 0-0 0, Ben Fase 3 0-0 6, Boone DeLavallad 1 3-6 5. Totals 13 8-12 36.
SILVER CREEK (8-4, 2-1)
Rhythm Ajanku 4 0-4 9, Reese Barracks 1 1-2 3, Anthony Kasper 5 3-7 13, Andrew Rapp 1 0-0 2, Sam Schlegel 4 1-2 10, Khari Harrison 0 0-0 0, Hunter Becvar 1 1-2 4, Christian Warner 0 0-0 0, Carter Blink 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 6-17 41.
Score by quarters:Centaurus 10 7 9 10 — 36
Silver Creek 3 13 6 19 — 41
3-point field goals — Centaurus (2): Gambon, Platt; Silver Creek (3): Ajanku, Schlegel, Becvar. Total fouls — Centaurus 15; Silver Creek 18. Technical foul — Harrison.