20111205_BBON_STEAMBOAT_02.JPG Niwot's Henry Sebesta (20) goes for the basket as Steamboat Springs' Zach Dunklin (24), left, and Robby Davis (21) defend as Niwot defeats Steamboat Springs, 64-29, at Niwot High School on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. (Richard M. Hackett/Times-Call)
Richard M. Hackett/Times-Call
20111205_BBON_STEAMBOAT_02.JPG Niwot’s Henry Sebesta (20) goes for the basket as Steamboat Springs’ Zach Dunklin (24), left, and Robby Davis (21) defend as Niwot defeats Steamboat Springs, 64-29, at Niwot High School on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. (Richard M. Hackett/Times-Call)

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NIWOT — The Steamboat Springs boys basketball team had the long bus trip to Niwot to get hyped for Monday’s game.

But a Niwot team, stinging from an 0-2 start and searching for its first win, awaited the 2-0 Sailors. After stumbling at a season-opening tournament, the Cougars crushed the Sailors 64-29 in a defensive showcase.

“It wasn’t a must-win, but we definitely had a chip on our shoulder,” senior forward Henry Sebesta said. “We had something to prove. We were going out there wanting to give these guys a long bus ride home.”

With primary scorer Cody Heimann limited by a wrist injury, Sebesta picked up the slack. He turned in a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds. Heimann added 12 points, but it was the Cougars’ defense that earned them the win.

“I think the key was just our defense,” Sebesta said. “We kind of had a slow start in the beginning. We weren’t really pressing that much. Then we figured out that we could start pressing and turn up the defensive intensity a little bit. Then the points really started coming from our defense.”

The Cougars led 11-3 after the first quarter, but it was sloppy. Senior point guard Michael Ogez said it was “almost comical how bad” the Cougars were in the first quarter.

“I would randomly just lose the ball or Henry would randomly lose the ball, or Cody would go up for a dunk and just miss a layup or something,” said Ogez, who had five points and five assists. “But I was really proud of how we came out on defense for the rest of the game.”

But the home team turned up the heat in the second and third quarters. The Cougars consistently forced turnovers with their full-court and half-court defenses and converted them to points, outscoring the Sailors 42-15 in the middle frames.

Heimann had five steals, two of which resulted in breakaway dunks at the other end, and did not have to play the fourth quarter.

After snatching the momentum with defense and transition scoring, the Cougars settled down in the half court. Alex Janzen drained three 3-pointers to lead a Cougars bench that scored 18 points.

Seniors Eric Trousil and Jake Miller combined for 23 of the Sailors’ 29 points. Limiting their third opponent to 29 points was a welcome sign for Cougars head coach Travis Maron, whose team had struggled matching their opponents’ intensity in the first two games.

That wasn’t a problem Monday night.

“Even though we fouled a little bit and we were a little out of control on the offensive end, our intensity level was sky high,” Maron said.

The Cougars are into the win column for the first time this season, but they’ll need to match Monday’s intensity when they host No. 2-ranked Sterling (1-0) on Friday.

“(The win) is really big for two reasons: We had a long weekend with some guys out, we’ve struggled a little bit and we really wanted to come out and set a tone early in the game,” Maron said. “Not just the fact that it’s at home, which is exciting, but it really was a big win. It’s our first win. Got it at home. It feels good. We kind of got it behind us and we’re gonna move on because we have a big one on Friday against Sterling.”

Brad Cochi can be reached at bcochi@times-call.com.

Niwot 64, Steamboat Springs 29

At Niwot HS

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS (2-1)

Bishop 1 0-0 2, Ditter 1 0-1 2, Lopez 0 0-0 0, Depuy 0 0-0 0, Korhsky 0 2-2 2, Frye 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0-0 0, Custer 0 0-0 0, Croop 0 0-0 0, Bye 0 0-0 0, Trousil 2 4-6 8, Miller 6 3-7 15. Totals 10 9-16 29.

NIWOT (1-2)

Hart 0 0-0 0, Keeler 0 2-2 2, Janzen 3 0-0 9, Merriman 2 0-0 5, Kinnison 3 0-0 6, Kolakowski 1 0-0 2, McCaddon 0 0-0 0, Sebesta 8 5-7 21, Heimann 5 2-2 12, Colwell 1 0-0 2, Ogez 2 1-1 5. Totals 25 10-13 64.

Score by quarters:

Steamboat Springs 3 8 7 11 — 29

Niwot 11 22 20 11 — 64

3-point field goals — Steamboat Springs (0): None; Niwot (4): Janzen 3, Merriman. Total fouls — Steamboat Springs 15, Niwot 22. Fouled out — Croop, McCaddon. Technical fouls — Last name.

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