DENVER — A fifth foul prematurely ended Erie sophomore Jordan Nguyen's career night.
Meh, "not a big deal," he said afterward.
His team had enough firepower to finish things anyway.
Nguyen scored a career-high 21 points before fouling out with 3 minutes, 45 seconds remaining and the Tigers' late surge was enough to stave off Niwot in a 66-57 win on Friday evening as part of a girls-boys doubleheader at Metro State University.
"My teammates were able to find me," the sophomore shrugged over his individual performance, "and I was able to get open looks."
Nguyen's previous high was 12 points in a 67-60 loss to Silver Creek a year ago. Senior Ethyn Tyson added 10 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter for Erie (2-3).
The Cougars (3-3), who never led, closed the deficit to 50-47 with 5:05 remaining. Tyson, though, helped the Tigers push the lead back to double digits as he scored eight points in the final 5:16. The senior went 8-for-10 from the stripe — including a 7-for-8 stretch in the final minutes.
Tyson is one of two seniors on roster, per MaxPreps. He's already carved out his role as a team leader.
"Sometimes I'm going to be hitting like I did tonight, and sometimes I'm not going to be," Tyson said. "It's about me being in their ear. Just setting the example."
Nguyen had 11 of Erie's 14 points in the third quarter to keep the Tigers out in front, 46-39. He swished 3-pointers with ease and looked comfortable driving the lane for savvy lay-ins and expert dishes throughout the night.
The sophomore tied his season-high with 10 in the opening half, including seven as part of a 10-2 run that gave the Tigers a 28-19 lead with 3:37 left in the second quarter.
Erie coach Scott Melin said he thought his sophomore has been on a springboard since his un-freshman-like performance in last season's first round win over Thomas Jefferson.
"He's fully capable of going out there and scoring like that," Erie's coach said.
Thomas Bounds led Niwot with 13 points and Cooper Sheldon had 12. The Cougars rallied from a big deficit early in the game and ended the half with a 10-4 run to pull within 32-29.
In the second half, they were within three points five different times but could get no closer.
Afterward, Niwot coach Eric Hejl said he liked his team's resilience but was disappointed with its composure. His team was called for two technical fouls in the second half.
"I think we could've really made those runs more effective and maybe taken a lead if we wouldn't have shot ourselves in the foot, so to speak," he said. "It's a young team still trying to learn not just to play together but what it takes to actually win together."
Brent W. New: firstname.lastname@example.org and @brentwnew
Erie 66, Niwot 57
At Metro State University
Ostwald 3 0-1 7, Bounds 4 3-4 13, Chong 0 2-2 2, Erikson 4 1-4 9, Pena 0 0-0 0, Sheldon 4 2-6 12, Noterman 0 0-0 0, Reeves 2 0-0 5, Rathburn 0 1-2 1, Luthens 1 0-0 2, Shiers 0 6-6 6.
T. Rademacher 1 4-4 7, Tyson 1 8-10 11, C. Rademacher 1 1-2 3, Hargrave 1 5-11 8, Nguyen 7 4-5 21, Loy 1 2-2 4, Mendoza 1 2-2 4, Lucero 2 1-2 5, Alexander 0 0-0 0, Brooks 1 1-4 3.
Score by quarters:Niwot (3-3) 7 22 10 18 — 57
3-point field goals — Niwot (6): Bounds 2, Sheldon 2, Reeves, Ostwald; Erie (6): Nguyen 3, T. Rademacher, Hargrave, Tyson. Total fouls — Niwot 27; Erie 23. Fouled out — Chong; Nguyen. Technical fouls — Ostwald, Erikson.