LONGMONT — The Longmont boys basketball team took care of business Wednesday night against Pueblo Central, never trailing on their home floor en route to a 67-46 Class 4A Sweet 16 win that puts them back in the Great 8 on Saturday.
"The bottom line is we have another day of basketball," Longmont coach Jeff Kloster said.
In a game of runs, Longmont made bigger runs and put more of them together to pull away. Pueblo Central's guard play was exceptional, keeping the Wildcats in it with their 3-point shooting, only to see the Trojans respond and extend the lead even further.
"There were moments where I thought we played tremendous," Kloster said. "We moved and shared the basketball and then played great defense. We did the things we needed to do early to advance to a 21-point lead."
Beck Page and Brady Renck carried the Trojans with 16 of the first 19 points that put Longmont up by 12 after the first quarter. Most of the success stemmed from the Trojans attacking the rim and getting in the paint, whether it was their guards or their bigs. The lead grew with Longmont going 14-of-15 from the free throw line in the first half.
"We were hot from the line," Longmont's Dallas Dye said.
Dye went 9-for-11 from the line to lead the Trojans. The team would finish 21-of-26 from the line between the five starters, who scored all 67 points in the win.
The aggressiveness in getting to the rim was part of the game plan Wednesday night, according to Kloster.
"We had an advantage and thought we could get to the rim," Kloster said. "At one point we were 14 out of 15 from the free throw line. That was because of our consistency as far as attacking the rim. That's what you have to do."
Steven Hemphill came off the bench for Pueblo Central with 11 first-half points that prevented the game from getting out of reach, putting them down 34-22 at the break. More 3-point shooting by the Wildcats saw them hang around a 12-point deficit and helped them answer a couple of scoring runs by Longmont.
In the fourth quarter, the deciding run came when the Trojans scored 10 straight points early to get the lead back up to 20 points, where it stayed for good.
Since losing to the Skyline Falcons on Feb. 17, 2018, no one has been able to top the Trojans. The win on Wednesday extends their current win streak to 30 straight games. In the 25 games Longmont has won this season, 23 have been decided by double figures, including both playoff wins.
"First of all, praise God," Kloster said on the streak. "My wife said a couple of months ago to really enjoy this team. This is a special team, and you have to live and enjoy the moment. That's what we're trying to do right now."
A long winning streak is nice, but the Trojans have made it clear that their number one goal is to win the state championship again at the Denver Coliseum, which they are three wins away from achieving.
Longmont will host the winner of the Sweet 16 matchup between Golden and Harrison. Game time has been set for 2 p.m.
"There's really not much difference (from last year)," Dye said. "We have the same heart and most of the same guys. We lost two guys, but we're really the same team."
Longmont 67, Pueblo Central 46
At Longmont HS
PUEBLO CENTRAL (15-10)
Ben Beltran 5 1-5 14, Steven Hemphill 5 0-0 13, Brandon Martin 3 2-2 9, Nico Martin 3 1-3 7, Josh Gilmore 1 0-0 3, Marcus Freeman 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 4-10 46.
Dallas Dye 6 9-11 21, Beck Page 5 5-5 18, Brady Renck 5 3-4 15, Calvin Seamons 4 2-4 11, Oakley Dehning 0 2-2 2. Totals 20 21-26 67.
Score by quarters:Pueblo Central (15-10) 7 15 12 12 — 46
3-point field goals — Pueblo Central(8): Hemphill 3, Beltran 3, Martin, Gilmore; Longmont(6): Page 3, Renck 2, Seamons. Total fouls — Pueblo Central 21, Longmont 9. Fouled out — Martin, Freeman. Technical fouls — Renck.