Boys basketball: Shorthanded Centaurus can’t topple Rocky

LAFAYETTE — Senior point guard Nate McGinley has been the focal point of the Centaurus offense all season. He leads the team in points and is the conductor of one of the most productive offenses in the 4A Northern League.

So it should come as no surprise that his absence would leave such a seismic void in the Warriors’ lineup on Tuesday night.

The Warriors’ 51-41 loss to Rocky Mountain at home began under a cloud of uncertainty as McGinley’s absence from the starting lineup for violating an unspecified team rule left many scratching their heads. As the game wore on and the Warriors were held to their lowest first quarter and halftime point totals of the season, his absence grew from a burden to a great cause for concern for both players and fans alike.

“He violated a team rule and he had to sit out,” said head coach, Andy Horning. “We really missed his offense. He’s a 25 point per game scorer so it hurt us, but he (broke a rule).”

Without McGinley, the Warriors were forced to rely more heavily on second-leading scorer Steven Jordan’s offense and hope a collective effort from a number of other players would compensate for the loss. Although the junior forward delivered an impressive 19-point effort, the six other players who saw action combined for just 22 points.

“We definitely felt like we didn’t play up to our potential (without McGinley),” said senior forward Austin Tunquist, who had a team-high six rebounds. “Turnovers were our biggest problem all night and that’s a result of not having our point guard.”

Guard Sam Esler was forced to fufill the majority of the point guard duties in McGinley’s absence and although he played well, 15 team turnovers were ultimately too much to overcome.

“I think we would have beat them if he had played,” said Tunquist. “There were other reasons (we lost) though. We have to work on our ball-handling skills and just keep sprinting up and down the court. They also got way too many points in the paint, especially in the first quarter.”

Even with an offense that was severely limited, the Warriors managed to battle back from a 12-point deficit to cut the Lobos’ lead to just three early in the second half on the strength of a suffocating defense that forced 23 Rocky Mountain turnovers. The inspired Centaurus defense limited the highest-scoring team in the 5A Front Range League to its lowest point total of the season.

“Our defense was good,” said Horning. “We battled all night long, and we were right there for a lot of (the second half). Overall I just loved the effort by our team.”

The Lobos were led by senior guard Ryan Fergen, whose 13 points, five rebounds and three assists were all team highs.

Up next for the Warriors is a home game against unbeaten division leader D’Evelyn on Saturday.

Rocky Mountain 51, Centaurus 41

At Centaurus HS

ROCKY MOUNTAIN (5-1)

Tatum 1 0-0 2, Dermody 3 2-3 8, Hunter 5 2-4 12, Fergen 3 6-6 13, Tran 2 0-0 4, Hines 0 3-4 3, Bruntz 3 0-0 7, Karp 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 13-17 51.

CENTAURUS (2-4)

Giltner 1 0-0 2, Esler 1 0-0 2, Puckett 1 3-4 5, Jordan 5 7-8 19, Tunquist 2 1-2 6, Ellington 1 2-4 5, Koch 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 11-18 41.

Score by quarters:

Rocky Mountain 18 9 9 15 — 51

Centaurus 10 11 5 15 — 41

3-point field goals Rocky Mountain (2): Fergen, Bruntz; Centaurus (4): Jordan(2), Ellington, Tunquist. Total fouls — Rocky Mountain 20, Centaurus 13. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.