LONGMONT -- After graduating team leaders Maurissa Ortega and Andi Houck from last year's 21-4 team, the Centaurus girls basketball players knew their team dynamic would to change considerably in 2013.
Sometimes change is good.
Despite losing Ortega and Houck, who combined for 23.4 points per game, the Warriors are finding a way to play together -- and rack up victories. After a 51-47 road win over conference opponent Silver Creek (10-7, 4-4) on Friday night, the Warriors have won three of their last four games and are 6-2 in Northern League play.
Senior shooting guard Anna Hubbell, who led the Warriors (12-5, 6-2) with 15 points, said CHS is finding a rhythm on the floor.
"We're winning right now. It's different but now we're just trying to jell back together," Hubbell said. "It's bumpy at times but we've overcome so much I feel like we can do anything. It's all around. Everyone's scoring more as a team and we're all becoming better offensive and defensive threats."
In both teams' conference opener on Jan. 8, Lyndie Puckett broke open a defensive battle and the Warriors outscored the Raptors 12-2 in the fourth quarter to win 39-27. Puckett hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points on Friday but the second half was quite unlike the teams' first meeting.
Raptors senior forward Tess Warner gave the Raptors a 39-38 lead to start the fourth quarter with a buzzer-beating shot to end the third. But the Warriors went on a 4-0 run and stiffened their defense to hold the Raptors scoreless until midway through the fourth.
Emilie Rembert, the Raptors' junior leading scorer, hit a leak-out layup to cut the Warriors' lead to one point with 31 seconds left. Good free-throw shooting from Hubbell and junior point guard Danelle Dondelinger put the game back out of reach and the Raptors couldn't convert on several chances to tie the game or take the lead.
"Silver Creek's a really good team and we have a lot of respect for them," said Dondelinger, who made six of eight free throws and finished with eight points. "We knew they were going to be tough and we all had to bring our own thing to the table and that's what we did. Everyone contributed in that win."
Warriors senior Taylor Langer scored 10 points and both Dondelinger and Hubbell had five rebounds for the Warriors. Senior guard Shanlie Anderson led the team with three assists.
For the Raptors, the loss snapped a three-game win streak. Rembert led all players with 17 points and seven rebounds, and junior point guard Margaret Davis had 15 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Head coach Dan Kloster said the Raptors missed Shelby Keil, who sets the tone on the defense and shoots well but missed the game with a broken finger on her left hand. But he was also pleased with the way other players like Warner and junior forward Julie Dauer stepped up in her place.
"I feel like we haven't reached our full potential yet and in that game we were really close to reaching it," Warner said. "There are certain times when I feel like there are parts missing that need to come together and as a team we generally have slower starts."
Warner, who finished with seven points, said the Raptors started pressuring the ball and looking up and passing to fast breaks in the second half. They put together a 9-0 run to take a brief lead in the third quarter and led again to begin the fourth.
Dauer scored four points and Kloster said she brought energy in the starting lineup, as did Julia Bishop and bench players Taylor Strub and Carrie Ramirez.
Back in action on Tuesday, the Warriors will host Mountain View and the Raptors will host top-ranked Broomfield.
Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi
Centaurus 51, Silver Creek 47
At Silver Creek HS
CENTAURUS (12-5, 7-2)
Puckett 4 0-0 11, Langer 3 3-4 10, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Manfredini 1 1-4 3, Gofran 0 0-0 0, Patterson 1 0-0 2, Dondelinger 1 6-8 8, Hubbell 3 6-11 15, Esler 1 0-2 2. Totals 14 16-29 51.
SILVER CREEK (10-7, 4-4)
Davis 5 4-8 15, Rembert 5 7-8 17, Bishop 0 0-0 0, Strub 0 0-0 0, Dauer 2 0-3 4, Warner 2 3-5 7, Ramirez 0 0-0 0, Reed 1 1-1 3. Totals 13 15-25 47.
Score by quarters:
Centaurus 15 13 10 13 -- 51
Silver Creek 9 14 16 8 -- 47
3-point field goals -- Centaurus (7): Puckett 3, Hubbell 3, Langer; Silver Creek (1): Davis. Total fouls -- Centaurus 22, Silver Creek 25. Fouled out -- Patterson, Dauer. Technical fouls -- None.