LONGMONT — High-fiving his players during pregame announcements, Jay Darien felt the sweatiest hands he’d ever felt in nine years of coaching.
The Longmont girls basketball coach didn’t know what to expect in this year’s season opener against Roosevelt. After graduating his entire state runner-up starting lineup from the year before, how could he?
But the Trojans’ new-look lineup found a way to win 55-52, despite trailing by six points in the final minutes.
“I thought, ‘Well, we’ll find out what they’re made of,'” Darien said of his nervous group. “They didn’t quit and they played team basketball.”
The Trojans led 30-23 at halftime after a good second quarter. But they gave up the lead on a 16-1 Roughriders run in the third.
They lost the lead in the second half, but the Trojans were erratic against the full court press in the first. They committed 20 of their 34 turnovers in the first two quarters.
“We turned the ball over enough in the first half to lose the game right there,” Darien said. “But our defense and rebounding was what got it done.”
The Trojans cut the lead to 49-47 with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. With both teams in the bonus, Gabriella Fallon hit two foul shots to tie the game with 1:36 remaining.
Freshman Lacy Haddock, who brought energy off the bench, scored a put-back layup to give the Trojans a 51-50 lead. In a halfcourt trap, Kathryn Schell stole the ball and Darien called a timeout.
Down the stretch, senior Kaiya Canar went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line to ice the Trojans’ victory.
“Without those it could have been a completely different game, so the free throws were huge,” Canar said.
Facing the daunting task of replacing a 2010 starting lineup that accounted for 65 points per game, the Trojans starters scored 48 of their 55 points.
“It was a big win for us because it was the first game for all of us five as a team,” said Anna Schell, who led the Trojans with 15 points. “The five that started had never started before. We were nervous at first but then we got into it, held our ground. We had a lot of heart.”
Anna and twin sister Kathryn Schell, who scored 14 points, combined for five 3-pointers. Fallon finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
It wasn’t the dominant performance the Trojans we accustomed to with last season’s team. But the young team felt good about how it started the year.
“We want to be as good as them,” Fallon said. “They set the bar high. Everyone didn’t think we were gonna be that good and I think this proves a point. It lifts us up as a program to show that we still have it. We got it.”
Longmont defeated Roosevelt 57-48 in last year’s season opener … Roosevelt’s Gabby Ramirez led all scorers Wednesday with 23 points.
Brad Cochi can be reached at email@example.com.
Longmont 55, Roosevelt 52
At Longmont HS
Jacox 2 3-5 8 Cooper 1 1-2 3, Seele 1 3-4 5, Eidson 0 2-2 2, H. Placke 0 0-2 0, Ramirez 10 4-6 23, Trimble 3 1-2 8, K. Placke 0 3-4 3. Totals 17 17-26 52.
Fallon 2 7-11 11, Carney 0 0-2 0, Haddock 2 1-2 5, Tulenko 0 0-0 0, Canar 4 5-6 14, K. Schell 3 0-0 8, A. Schell 5 2-2 15, Chandler 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Murray 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 15-22 55.
Score by quarters:
Roosevelt 15 8 18 11 — 52
Longmont 14 16 9 16 — 55
3-point field goals — Roosevelt (3): Jacox, Trimble, Ramirez; Longmont (6): A. Schell 3, K. Schell 2, Canar. Total fouls — Roosevelt 20, Longmont 19. Fouled out — A. Schell, Trimble, Ramirez, Seele. Technical fouls — None.