LAFAYETTE — Despite the efforts of the Centaurus girls basketball team to muddy the waters of the Northern League on Thursday night, the hue became crystal clear blue.
Longmont blue, that is.
Facing a fourth straight road game the Trojans dubbed "the gauntlet," the interior dominance provided by seniors Sydney Wetterstrom and Madi Gaibler won out in the end of a 54-38 LHS victory at the CHS gym.
Emma Carney came off the bench to provide some big rebounds, too, but Wetterstrom and Gaibler combined for 34 points and 19 rebounds to give Longmont (15-1, 8-0) the upper hand in the race for the league title.
The Warriors (14-2, 6-2) still have a legitimate shot at the No. 2 seed out of the league and there is still plenty of regular season left, but the Trojans made their mark in the paint Thursday.
"We had to play our hardest these four road games in order to keep our position, have our goals still reachable," said Wetterstrom, who had 19 points and 16 rebounds for her eighth double-double. "Our goal is to be conference champs, first.
"I think we had the advantage when we got them into foul trouble. We really got some chances to drive because they were in foul trouble, and we got to the line for a 1-and-1 or to complete some three-point plays."
In a 58-51 Longmont win over the Warriors earlier in the year, Centaurus was fairly effective at breaking the press, and that led to head coach Mike Knaus having his defense sit back a little more in the rematch.
It worked well after a first quarter that saw CHS come out firing. The Warriors led 14-11 after one frame, and Longmont turned up their intensity a notch in the half-court, man-to-man defense in the second frame.
They closed on shooters, dug deep for rebounds and turnovers and pushed the pace to outs-score the hosts 15-2 in the second stanza. Wetterstrom and Gaibler scored 13 of the 15, and Gaibler finished with 15 points for the contest.
"Going into the first quarter, shooting like that, I thought, 'wow, we're back,'" said Centaurus coach Liz Russell. "That second quarter, there were a lot of things. We had a low shooting percentage, but we had 10 (points in the paint) that we missed.
"That Longmont team is used to winning, they know how to win. This is a game you need to know how to win, and we're learning that with our younger players."
The quick-strike ability of the Warriors shone in the third quarter as the team drew back to within 34-28 with 20 seconds left, but a Kennedy Sheetz 3-pointer that beat the buzzer made it 37-28 and Longmont closed the game shooting 5-for-9 from the floor and making 7 of 8 free throws.
"If our defense is on fire, then our offense will develop," Wetterstrom said. "They broke our press pretty good before, so we felt comfortable going with our half-court man."
Linsi Calvo scored 11 points to lead Centaurus, and Helen Gover had 10. Morgan Negrey grabbed six rebounds.
Longmont 54, Centaurus 38
At Centaurus HS
LONGMONT (15-1, 8-0)
Sarah Nichols 0 1-3 1, Sam Wiley 0 0-0 0, Emma Carney 1 0-1 2, Sydney Fixmer 2 3-3 7, Sydney Wetterstrom 5 9-11 19, Madi Gaibler 6 3-4 15, Hali Walters 2 1-2 5, Kennedy Sheetz 2 0-0 5. Totals 18 17-24 54.
CENTAURUS (14-2, 6-2)
Helen Gover 4 0-0 10, Brooke Calvo 0 2-2 2, Moniphon Xiong 0 0-1 0, Brooke Jones 1 2-2 4, Morgan Negrey 1 0-0 2, Linsi Calvo 4 0-0 11, Imani Licata-Becerril 3 0-0 6, Natalie Gofran 1 1-2 3. Totals 14 5-7 38.
Score by quarters:Longmont 11 15 11 17 — 54
Centaurus 14 2 12 10 — 38
3-point field goals — Longmont (1): Sheetz; Centaurus (5): L. Calvo 3, Gover 2.