LONGMONT — At this point in the basketball season, playing fearless is going to get you the furthest.
For the Silver Creek boys basketball team, junior Nick Eaton really took that to heart on a rare late Saturday playoff game — one which the Raptors had been waiting a full week for.
Facing local foe Erie in a Class 4A second round postseason contest that had great energy, Eaton was one of the Raptors' bright spots in a 73-63 home win that gave SCHS its 20th win and guaranteed at least one more game in the raucous confines of the Nest.
Much like the rest of his teammates, getting to the rim took every ounce of grit and a willingness to get bumped — even taken to the ground on occasion. It appeared to almost be addictive, actually, as Eaton bruised his way to 15 points in the big win over the Tigers.
"It meant a bunch to get this, because I think we felt we had something to prove against Erie," Eaton said after No. 7 seed Silver Creek beat Erie for the second time this season and moved on to play No. 10 seed Harrison next Wednesday night. "We were out (Saturday) morning at the gym at 10 a.m. getting ready for this one, and we've just worked so hard.
"My head got a little cloudy in the second quarter (emotionally), but our team leaders Trent (Dykema) and Christian (Warner) just kept me in the game. It means a lot to work this hard and get that W."
If opponents aren't ready to run with the Raptors, well, good luck. They thrive on the long outlet off a rebound, salivate over the opportunity to weave through the open court. In this game, they were able to do so quite often.
Erie got caught early on dealing with the Raptors' strong rebounding, and that was a large part of the visitors falling down by double-digits as early as one quarter in. Luckily, the Tigers are deep off the bench and that allowed them to keep fresh legs in during the second quarter and keep within eight points by halftime.
The energy never left the court, but a strong third quarter from Trent Dykema put Creek up 49-33 heading to the fourth. Dykema at one point scored nine straight points for his team, and the senior gave way to Eaton's biggest stretch of scoring in which he contributed 11 of Creek's next 19 points.
Dykema finished with 25 points.
"Erie definitely played to their strengths and they came at us, but our guys were just up to the task," Silver Creek head coach Bob Banning said. "Nick is quite an athlete, and part of that is working in our system and letting him have some freedom so that he's not afraid to make a mistake or two. In the plus-minus chart, he helps us out a lot. Two or three plays, he made the place erupt, and that alone is worth a couple more (defensive) stops or (offensive) hoops."
"Erie plays a style a lot like ours because they like to get out and run, but we wanted to try and control the (tempo) first," Eaton said. "I think we did good going fast and then slowing down when we wanted to."
Despite being down 16, senior-heavy Erie (12-13) wasn't going to let Silver Creek waltz the rest of the way. The Tigers scored 30 points in the fourth quarter by playing tough interior defense and finishing around the basket. Luke Loy and Jeffrey Farineau did most of the damage, combining for 24 of those points.
Erie managed to cut the score all the way down to 66-60 with 1:34 left, but Dykema drove the lane for an easy bucket and then hit four free throws down the stretch — he made all 10 of his attempts in the game — to keep it out of reach.
Luke Loy finished with a game-most 27 and Farineau added 17.
"These guys loved each other, and the coaches loved them for their heart," Erie coach Scott Melin said. "There's no question every single guy left it all out there. They kept battling and their heads about them, and I really couldn't be more proud of what they did this postseason."
Silver Creek 73, Erie 63
At Silver Creek HS
Larson 2 1-4 5, Tyson 3 0-0 7, L. Loy 10 6-6 27, Farineau 6 5-11 17, Lucero 1 0-3 2, K. Loy 1 0-0 2, Yopp 1 0-0 3. Totals 24 12-24 63.
SILVER CREEK (20-4)
Belcher 1 2-2 5, Eaton 6 2-3 15, Dykema 7 10-10 25, Warner 2 1-1 5, Hubert 0 1-2 1, Riters 4 6-9 14, Grossaint 4 0-2 8. Totals 24 22-29 73.
Score by quarters:Erie 717930—63
3-point field goals — Erie (3): Yopp, L. Loy, Tyson; Silver Creek (3): Dykema, Eaton, Belcher. Fouled out — Tyson, Yopp.