LONGMONT -- After back-to-back losses to Centaurus and Broomfield in which it scored 56 points, the Silver Creek girls basketball team badly needed to rediscover its mojo Tuesday night against Niwot.
Mission accomplished on two ends. The Raptors notched their first 4A Northern League victory, 37-24. And, at least in the first half when it bolted to a 27-10 lead, Silver Creek found some of its missing offensive firepower.
Being handled by Centaurus (11th in voting in the Denver Post coaches poll) and top-ranked Broomfield was no disgrace. But falling to 0-3 would have dug the Raptors (6-5 overall) a deep hole in the Northern League.
"You start to get into a slump and those are hard to break out of," Silver Creek coach Dan Kloster said. "So it's definitely good that we got a win after that. And we need to get on a run the other way. We've got Greeley Central on Friday night and we've got to make it happen."
The Raptors jumped on Niwot (3-8, 0-2) early, hitting four of their first eight shots (two apiece by Julie Dauer and Shelby Keil) and forcing six Cougars turnovers in forging a 12-0 lead. Niwot didn't score until the 1:25 mark of the first quarter, and shot 1 of 12 from the floor (its field goal coming with 15 seconds left) combined with seven turnovers (for eight points) in the opening eight minutes.
Silver Creek shot 38 percent for the first half and led by as many as 19 points before Niwot, to its credit, outscored the Raptors 14-10 in the second half and cut the margin to 11 by scoring eight unanswered points to open the fourth quarter.
The Cougars used a box-and-one defense on Emilie Rembert, Silver Creek's leading scorer. Rembert, who led the Raptors in scoring last year, managed eight points, but most of them did not come in a set offense. Kloster wasn't satisfied that the Raptors missed open players when Niwot double-teamed Rembert down low, but generally was pleased with his team's first-half offense.
"The primary goal tonight was to work on our offensive game and make sure we were running the offense consistently," Kloster said. "We did a pretty good job of making that effort. But if we don't get better in the passing game, we're going to struggle."
Margaret Davis led the Raptors with nine points, and Dauer matched Rembert's eight points.
Niwot, with two wins over 3A Eagle Ridge Academy of Brighton including its most recent outing, struggled in the first half against Silver Creek's 1-2-2 halfcourt trapping defense. The Cougars shot 3 of 21 (.143) and committed 15 turnovers (16 points) in the first half.
"In all honesty, we didn't play that badly in the first half," said Niwot coach Clark Burton, who succeeded longtime coach Terri Ward, a halftime honoree by the Silver Creek Leadership Academy. "We couldn't make a shot, and it was all layups.
"But we finished very well. The way we played in the fourth quarter was outstanding. We played with much more intensity. We did a better job on the defensive end and that led to some offense for us."
Niwot got a lift offensively off the bench from freshman Jaelyn Larson, who scored seven of her team-high nine points in the second half including five at the outset of the fourth quarter. No other Cougar scored more than four points.
"This was by far her best performance, which is good since she's a freshman," Burton said. ""She's starting to not play like a freshman."
Silver Creek 37, Niwot 24
At Silver Creek HS
NIWOT (3-8, 0-2)
Montgomery 1 0-2 2, Hansen 2 0-0 4, Calvert 1 1-3 3, Sigg 0 0-0 0, Enriquez 0 0-2 0, Yie 1 1-3 3, Sarosi 0 1-2 1. Larson 3 2-2 9 Pilewskie 0 0-0 0, Dunnell 0 0-0 0, Discipio 1 0-0 2. Totals 9 5-14 24.
SILVER CREEK (6-5, 1-2)
Davis 4 0-1 9, Rembert 3 2-2 8, Bishop 0 2-2 2, Dauer 4 0-0 8, Keil 3 0-0 6, Strub 0 0-0 0, Warner 1 0-0 2, Ramirez 0 0-0 0, Reed 1 0-0 2, Cordova 0 0-0 0, Kloster 0 0-0 0, Jones 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 4-5 37.
Score by quarters:
Niwot 5 5 6 8 -- 24
Silver Creek 14 13 8 2 -- 37
3-point field goals -- Niwot (1): Larson. Silver Creek (1): Davis. Total fouls -- Niwot 10, Silver Creek 13. Fouled out --None. Technicals -- None.