NIWOT — It's not just the current players and coaches in the Niwot boys basketball program who have been waiting a painfully long time for Friday night's win.
A whole bunch of Cougars players who came before them and have long since graduated have been waiting even longer. Heck, most of the school had become sick of what a regularity losing to perennial statewide power Longmont boys basketball had become over the past decade or so.
So on Friday night when the Niwot boys beat Longmont 64-63, the Cougars were overjoyed at ending the lengthy losing streak in the area rivalry series.
"Longmont is a great program and there are plenty of reason why they have so much success," Niwot head coach Preston Hardy said. "We've lost 19 games in a row to them, and that equates to nine and a half years. This would have been the 20th loss and an entire decade of losses to one school. We had a meeting after our last loss to them and we stacked up 19 chairs in our locker room and we said, 'We ain't stacking 20.'"
For much of Friday's game, it appeared the Cougars would have to stack that 20th chair.
Breaking a 29-29 halftime stalemate, the Trojans (9-8, 6-4 Northern) opened the second half on a 12-4 run but led by just two to start the fourth quarter. They maintained a slight advantage for most of the fourth quarter until the Cougars (9-9, 5-4 Northern) took a 61-60 lead with 19 seconds left when Jackson Kolakowski hit a short jump shot.
Niwot senior Adam Barber hit two free throws on the next possession to give the Cougars a three-point lead and Alex Helgeland stole the inbounds pass on the Trojans' next possession and made one of two at the other end. Down four, Longmont frantically moved the ball down the court and Oakley Dehning hit a contested 3-pointer to cut the lead to one point. But with just 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock, a long inbounds pass by Niwot was enough to end the game.
"It was just believing," Barber said. "We have the fight in us and when they punched us in the mouth in the third quarter, I looked at all my teammates and I knew at that point that we were going give a hundred percent to win this game."
Barber (12.4 ppg) led the Cougars with 18 points. For the Trojans, who currently sit in third place in the Northern League just ahead of Niwot, junior Luke Johnson (16.4 ppg) hit five of the Trojans' 10 3-pointers and led all scorers with 23 points.
The Trojans will host Greeley Central (6-12, 3-6 Northern) on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, the Cougars will travel to Mountain View (10-8, 4-5).
Niwot 64, Longmont 63
At Niwot H.S.
LONGMONT (9-8, 6-4)
Johnson 8 2-2 23, Mugungu 4 5-7 13, Elkins 0 0-0 0, Dye 1 2-2 4, Dehning 5 0-0 13, Dion 1 0-0 2, Page 1 0-0 3, Mosness 0 0-0 0, Thompson 2 0-0 5, Fixmer 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 9-11 63.
NIWOT (9-9, 5-4)
Kolakowski 3 0-0 8, Sims 3 0-0 9, Barber 6 6-6 18, Bounds 6 0-1 14, Radatz 1 0-0 2, Helgeland 0 1-2 1, Touwlen 1 0-0 3, Falk 2 1-2 5, Carlson 2 0-0 4. Totals 24 8-11 64.
Score by quarters:Longmont 15 14 18 16 — 63 Niwot
12 17 16 19 — 64
3-point field goals — Longmont (10): Johnson 5, Dehning 3, Page, Thompson; Niwot (8): Sims 3, Kolakowski 2, Bounds 2, Towlen. Total fouls — Longmont 17, Niwot 14. Fouled out — Johnson.