LONGMONT — Now is the time to be Warriors if you are Chris Mischke's Centaurus girls basketball team.
The first year coach reiterated that on Wednesday night after falling victim to a peaking Silver Creek team in their Northern League finale at SCHS. In the wake of losing Brooke Jones, one of their senior leaders, to injury on Monday night Mischke is hoping that his young team can find some semblance of unity as they roll toward the playoffs.
Wednesday night against the Raptors — a 37-32 Silver Creek win that split the season series the teams — was not exactly how Mischke wanted his team to respond.
Yes, the Warriors (11-3 in the league) earned the Northern title despite the loss by virtue of beating second-place Greeley Central twice, but Silver Creek showed Mischke's team just how hard any potential playoff team might be.
"When you take a kid out of a lineup that is averaging 30 minutes a game and can do so much ... ultimately, this is about being able to adjust for us." Mischke said after his team dropped to 16-6 overall. "We're a young team and we're learning a lot of things. Sometimes it takes time to adjust. We're in that next-man-up mode, and I think we were just flat and a bit tentative tonight.
"I'm not terribly proud of our effort tonight, but we still have a lot to play for and I think we just need some games under our belt."
Jones was averaging 11.3 points per game and the Warriors were claiming a 47-point-per-game average, but they struggled mightily to gain any rhythm against Silver Creek (15-8, 8-6) without her. At times they played well defensively, but allowing too many rebounds hurt late and the Raptors were able to get some key second chances on their way to victory.
"We just need some girls to pick up the scoring, because we're holding teams well enough defensively that we're going to give ourselves a chance," Mischke said. "We have been hurt all season by rebounds."
After seeing a 22-point, 19-rebound performance go for naught in the first meeting, won by Centaurus by a 63-52 count, Silver Creek's Violet Kennedy had another great game against the Warriors on Wednesday.
This time, on her senior night, she had some huge put-backs in the third quarter and then a key three-point play in the fourth quarter to help keep the Raptors ahead after the teams went to halftime with Silver Creek up just 17-16. She finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Caitlin Volkmann also had a clutch rebound and put-back in the fourth quarter as Silver Creek out-rebounded Centaurus 33-27 for the game.
"We definitely focused on (rebounding) because last time out it was pretty even and it helped them win," Kennedy said. "We knew we had to be better there. We prepared well and knew what we needed to do to try and beat them and it worked out.
"A good strength of our team is that we work really hard."
Centaurus closes out the regular season Thursday against Vista PEAK Prep. Silver Creek, riding a four-game win streak that vaulted it to third in the league standings, will await the playoff seedings on Sunday.
Silver Creek 37, Centaurus 32
At Silver Creek HS
CENTAURUS (16-6, 11-3)
Gover 2 0-0 6, Taylor-Goodall 0 0-0 0, Calvo 3 0-0 7, Licata 3 2-4 8, Negrey 4 1-2 9, Anderson 0 0-0 0, West-Renney 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 3-6 32.
SILVER CREEK (15-8, 8-6)
S. Hebert 0 2-2 2, Noble 3 3-5 9, Kennedy 7 1-1 16, Volkmann 1 2-4 4, Salmeron 2 0-0 4, Scott 0 0-0 0, Nicholas 0 0-0 0, James 1 0-0 2, Tyrrell 0 0-1 0. Totals 14 8-13 37.
Score by quarters:Centaurus 6 10 8 8 — 32
Silver Creek 11 6 10 10 — 37
3-point field goals — Centaurus (3): Gover 2, Calvo; Silver Creek (1): Kennedy.