FREDERICK — Foul trouble limited Niwot boys basketball's Cameron Carlson in Wednesday's season opener on the road against Frederick.
But when the reins came off down the stretch, the 6-foot-7 senior was sure to leave his mark on the game.
After a back-and-forth game that included nine lead changes, seven in the second half, the Cougars found a way to head back home with a 60-55 win and a solid start to the season. The difference late in the game was Carlson finding a rhythm and scoring eight points in the final four minutes to help the Cougars pull ahead for good.
"It was a little frustrating being in foul trouble for most of the game," said Carlson, who picked up his fourth foul midway through the third. But when I got back in in the fourth, coach just told me play smart with four fouls but stay aggressive. If you foul out, we'll put someone else in, but keep attacking."
Senior Tyler Crall led the Cougars (1-0), who jumped out to a 15-4 lead after the first quarter, with 13 points to go with Carlson's 12. But the Warriors (0-1) clawed their way back into the game and cut the Cougars lead to 21-20 by halftime. Seven lead changes later, the Cougars led 53-50 with 51 seconds left in the game.
Trailing by four with 27.2 seconds, the Warriors committed a personal foul and a technical foul that sent Max Towlen and Thomas Bounds to the free-throw line for four shots. The pair went a combined 3 for 4 to push the lead to seven and give the Cougars the distance they needed to win.
"In the first quarter, we came out punching and swinging and got them on the ropes," Carlson said. "They kind of came back at us and we took that adversity well, and moved on throughout the game. They were really battling and they're a tough team, especially here at their place, but we were able to do enough to get the win."
Despite hitting nine 3-pointers in the game and Tyler Lords scoring a game-high 17 points, the Warriors fell to 0-1 on their home floor. On the visiting bench, it was a welcome victory for first-year head coach Eric Hejl, who was as relieved as he was happy to win his first game as head coach at Niwot.
"Winning the first game of the season is huge," Hejl said. "After this, we can start to focus on the meat of our season and finding a rhythm. The first one is always tough because it's all waiting up to this point, but the boys did a great job tonight and I'm happy to get my first win."
The Cougars will be back in action at Erie on Friday night. Also on Friday, the Warriors will play at home against Standley Lake.
Niwot 60, Frederick 55
At Frederick H.S.
Carlson 6 0-2 12, Crall 3 6-10 13, Erickson 0 2-4 2, Bounds 3 2-2 9, Towlen 2 6-10 10, Nagula 2 0-0 6, Hyatt 0 0-0 0, Ostwald 1 0-0 2, Kucharski 2 2-2 6. Totals 18 18-30 60.
Quinlan 1 0-0 3, Lords 7 0-2 17, Cartelli 4 0-0 9, Elize 0 0-0 0, Richard 3 0-0 9, Dreitz 2 1-2 6, Nathan Rawson 3 0-0 6, Green 2 0-0 4, Fish 0 1-6 1. Totals 22 -10 55.
Score by quarters:Niwot 15 6 18 19 — 60
Frederick 4 16 15 20 —55
3-point field goals — Niwot (4): Nagula 2, Crall, Bounds; Frederick (9): Richard 3, Lords 3, Dreitz, Cartelli, Quinlan. Total fouls — Niwot 16, Frederick 21. Fouled out — Lords, Dreitz, Rawson. Technical fouls — Lords.