FORT COLLINS — It was bound to happen at some point.
Jeff Kloster has been coaching at Longmont for nearly a quarter century and on Friday night at Rocky Mountain he had a first.
He coached against one of his former players for the first time in his career, the Lobos' Brian Tafel.
"I wasn't looking forward to it to be totally honest with you," said Kloster, after his team dropped to 3-3 with a 63-55 loss. "But it is what it is and I am proud of the way he conducts himself and how he gets his kids ready."
It was a proud moment for Tafel, who graduated from Longmont in 2002 and has modeled his program after his mentors and hopes to some day achieve the success at Rocky that Kloster has had.
"I love the heck out of those guys over there and coach Kloster has been, not only a strong mentor for me, but also a very close friend," said Tafel, whose Lobos moved to 5-4. "We are trying to be the program that Longmont is. And if I can be half of what he has established there, I'd be pretty happy with that.
"I just have so much respect for him."
A very entertaining first half that featured seven lead changes and five ties ended with the Lobos leading 28-26 and set the stage for an even more thrilling second half.
It was a matter of who was going to get that first little bit of separation and it went Rocky's way in the third quarter. The Lobos were down 31-30 and went on a 9-0 run to open up a lead they would never relinquish. The duo of Xavier Johnson and Joseph Urynowicz, who each had 18 points, were pivotal during that outburst.
"We knew that they had a height advantage against us and I told them we needed to do a good job boxing out and we allowed them to extend possessions," Kloster said. "They won the game, not only attacking the rim, but at the free throw line."
The Rocky lead grew to double digits in the fourth quarter, but it never felt like the Trojans were out of the game. On a night when their leading scorer, Luke Johnson, finished with just five points, Longmont got great production down the stretch from Oakley Dehning — who scored 14 of his team high 19 in the final eight minutes — and Tol Mugunga (14 points).
Longmont drew to within 57-52 with 2:05 to play on the fourth of Dehning's 3 pointers in the quarter, but wouldn't score again until the waning seconds.
"We are a young team and we scramble and try to get the most out of our kids," Kloster said. "I'm proud of what Brian is doing here at Rocky, I love him like a son, and he is going to make sure this program gets back to where it needs to be. So I tip my hat to him and his players."
Rocky Mountain junior Joseph Elliott, who couldn't miss from long range in the first half, finished with a game-high 20 points.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 63, LONGMONT 55
At Rocky Mountain
Luke Johnson 2 0-0 5, Tol Mugunga 6 2-5 14, Dallas Dye 0 0-0 0, Oakley Dehning 7 1-1 19, Caden Dion 0 0-0 0, Beck Page 3 0-0 9, Alec Thompson 4 0-0 8, Jarod Fixmer 0 0-2 0. Totals 22 3-8 55.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN (5-4)
Xavier Johnson 7 4-5 18, Joseph Urynowicz 8 1-1 18, Ryan Hutcheson 0 0-0 0, Tyler Hyland 0 2-2 2, Joseph Elliott 7 2-3 20, Fred Heberecht 2 0-0 4, Noah Lovell 0 1-1 1. Totals 24 10-12 63.
Score by quarters:Longmont 14 12 9 20 — 55
Rocky Mountain 11 17 13 22 — 63
3-point field goals — Longmont(8): Dehning 4, Page 3, Johnson; Rocky Mountain (5): Elliott 4, Urynowicz. Total fouls — Longmont 15; Rocky Mountain 13. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.