NIWOT — The Longmont boys basketball team has a handful of players that can put up points on any given night. Whoever’s got the hot hand is going to shoot the ball.
On Monday night, that player was Trojans senior Brian Donaire. And shoot he did.
Donaire scored a career-high 27 points to lead the Trojans to a 57-43 win in a makeup game with the Northern Conference-rival Niwot Cougars.
“I just felt like I couldn’t miss,” Donaire said. “I came in thinking, ‘Well, we gotta get a win.'”
Normally, he prefers taking the ball to the hoop. So when the 6-foot-2 senior hit the game’s first basket, a 3-pointer from the right side, he knew it was going to be a good night.
“When I hit that first three, I felt like I couldn’t miss after that,” said Donaire, who created much of his own offense off the dribble and off the seven steals he had.
Donaire went on to score 11 points in the first quarter to give the Trojans a 17-8 lead to start the second. The Trojans led by as many as 12 points in the first half and 17 in the second.
With four players 6-3 or taller, the Trojans ganged up on Cougars leading scorer Henry Sebesta on defense and used their size advantage offensively in the paint. Reilly Mau, Marcus Johnson, and Josh Cogdill, who was limited by some foul trouble, each scored eight points.
“We used our passing well to get it inside,” Mau said. “Marcus played great and had a ton of points inside. We pounded it in and we manipulated how we could jump over them and get rebounds and stuff.”
Mau felt the Trojans were also able to bother the Cougars with their length in both zone and man-to-man defense. They finished with 12 steals and forced 21 Cougars turnovers.
“We were definitely in the passing lanes, getting tips and everything,” Mau said. “We had a lot of steals that would turn into points and fast-break points. We turned up the intensity the whole game and it showed.”
The win moved the Trojans into second place in the Northern Conference, 1/2 game ahead of Greeley Central and 11/2 games behind Broomfield.
The Trojans will host the Northern’s top two teams — Broomfield (18-1, 10-0) today and Greeley Central (10-8, 7-2) on Thursday — as part of a four-game swing in six days.
“We’re very confident going into Broomfield and Central,” Mau said. “We didn’t play as well as we wanted to the last times. But we get both at home, which is great, because our fans are great on our home court. We’re gonna be really prepared and bring intensity.”
Sebesta finished with 21 points and Nate Merriman added 11 for the Cougars. But they ended up with their lowest offensive output since losing their matchup with the Trojans 53-43 on Jan. 10.
Cougars head coach Travis Maron said his team’s biggest issue was a surprising lack of mental and physical toughness.
“When you turn the ball over that much and you look that soft, that’s all it is: mental toughness, physical toughness,” he said. “I don’t think you ever expect your team to do this. If you’re gonna lose, you want it to be because you got beat, not because you just gave it to them. They made us look bad, bottom line.”
The Cougars will host Mountain View (1-18, 0-10) tonight. The Cougars beat the Mountain Lions 50-40 in the teams’ first meeting.
Brad Cochi can be reached at email@example.com.
Longmont 57, Niwot 43
At Niwot HS
LONGMONT (13-5, 8-2)
Alaniz 2 0-0 4, J. Johnson 0 0-0 0, Cogdill 4 0-1 8, B. Rossi 0 0-0 0, Donaire 11 4-5 27, Mau 4 0-0 8, Z. Rossi 1 0-0 2, M. Johnson 3 2-2 8, Kemp 0 0-0 0, Sterkel 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 6-8 57.
NIWOT (10-9, 5-5)
Lee 0 0-0 0, Keeler 0 0-0 0, Janzen 3 0-0 7, Merriman 5 1-2 11, Sebesta 8 5-5 21, Ogez 1 2-2 4. Totals 17 8-9 43.
Score by quarters:
Longmont 17 11 13 16 — 57
Niwot 8 13 10 12 — 43
3-point field goals — Longmont (1): Donaire; Niwot (1): Janzen. Total fouls — Longmont 12, Niwot 8. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.