Matt Dietz will walk the graduation line for Skyline soon, and he'll be able to take with him memories of individual accomplishments in both football and basketball.

The fact he and his teammates haven't participated in a playoff game over the past four years in either sport ... well, that eats at him a bit.

There is hope, however, as the Falcons basketball team is playing competitive hoops in the Tri-Valley League, now at 9-9 overall on the season after an overtime thriller at Berthoud on Wednesday night.

Hunter Gutierrez's tip-in beat the buzzer to give Skyline a 54-52 win against the Spartans and put it at 5-4 in league play with five games to go. Whereas in past years the Falcons have faltered down the stretch, Dietz said there's something different about how Skyline has grown together this year.

"In the past, things have gotten kind of lazy and we've been at times OK with being a losing team, but when coach Tyler (Cerveny) came in he just told us straight up that our attitude needed to change first in order to get good," Dietz said on Thursday morning. "At first it took a while, but we're really buying in and starting to play like a team. We're changing the culture, and that's good.

"We want playoffs to become an expectation starting this year."

The Falcons already have more wins than any SHS team since Dietz and this senior class was in eighth grade (they went 9-15 in 2011-12), and SHS hasn't won 10 games since 2008-09.


While Friday's home opponent Holy Family represents one of Class 4A's toughest teams — as does Mead, which Skyline still has to deal with one more time — the remaining five contests appear winnable on paper. In fact, Skyline has already defeated three of those foes in Erie, Roosevelt and Frederick.

With the hard-working attitude and team-first mentality that first-year head coach Tyler Cerveny has instilled, the Falcons have became a tough win for most opponents who have been able to beat them.

They are riding a streak of four wins in their past five games, and even the lone loss against Windsor included an eight-point Skyline lead in the third quarter.

Which goes to show, Cerveny said, there are still things to figure out.

"I think what we've shown is great perseverance, even (Wednesday night)," Cerveny said. "We had every opportunity to shut it down and walk away with a loss, but the boys overcame lots of different things to find a way.

"Guys are learning to step up in the moment. Experience is the greatest teacher, and learning how to win is a hard skill. That's where we're at. We didn't close it out at Windsor, so the next step is to be able to beat these more elite teams."

Dietz and Josh Angstead are the two senior starters, but there are six seniors on the squad that have embraced their roles. While Cerveny uses a pretty deep rotation, Dietz said he's proud of all his classmates for buying in to the system — even those who might spend more time on the bench than on the court.

"When we play as individuals we're very average, but collectively, when we learn to work toward something together, we're pretty good," Cerveny said. "I do not know about the past of this team, but what I do know is we're competing at a high level each and every night. What that means as far as wins and losses, you hope for things, but I do know we're going to play hard to end the season."

Added Dietz: "A lot of the guys that don't play a lot, they still bring a lot of energy that we need. Everyone helps out on defense, and I think they do a lot more than people can see. There's an influence on the atmosphere of the game that helps, too."

Windsor, Mead and Holy Family sit ahead of Skyline in league, and only two teams get automatic berths. But the hype is real in east Longmont.

Adam Dunivan: or