BROOMFIELD — With the teams trending in opposite directions and Broomfield still fuming about a double-overtime loss to Centaurus last month, it was easy to predict that the Eagles would turn the tables on Tuesday.
A five-time state champion with a league title at stake never seems like a bad bet.
But Andi Houck and her Centaurus teammates had something to say about that. The fifth-ranked Warriors stormed into No. 4 Broomfield’s gym on senior night and dispatched the host Eagles 45-38 to essentially capture the Class 4A Northern League crown.
“Getting that victory is just amazing,” Centaurus junior Anna Hubbell said. “Knowing they’ve won five state championships, it just shows us how far we’ve come as a team.”
If the Warriors (18-3, 11-2) can take care of business Thursday night against 3-18 Niwot, they’ll win the league by virtue of their 2-0 mark against Broomfield (18-4, 11-2).
“It means a lot, but ultimately what we’re looking for is to do well at state,” Houck said. “But it feels great to do as well as we did in this league this year considering how competitive it is.”
Houck averages a double-double and recorded another one, this time 14 points and 14 rebounds as the Warriors took an early lead and never trailed. Broomfield was able to tie it one time — 31-31 on a Meagan Prins basket with 6 minutes, 29 seconds remaining — but Warriors reserve Midori Patterson scored on a putback on the ensuing possession, sparking a clinching 9-1 run.
After starting the season 16-1, Centaurus had lost two of three, including a head-scratching defeat against .500 Mountain View on Saturday. But whatever groove the Warriors had at the outset of the season, it was back Tuesday.
“There were a couple lapses, but we played maybe the best we’ve played all season,” Warriors coach Jeff Jackson said. “I’m proud of the way they overcame the adversity, because last week we were struggling a bit. They decided how they wanted to respond to it.”
The Warriors also received 11 points from Hubbell and 12 points — and a gutty effort — from Jordan Matosky in a spirited contest that featured an ejection of a Centaurus fan.
After hustling down a loose ball and getting fouled with 41 seconds left, Matosky threw up before she could step to the free-throw line. With the Warriors clinging to a 40-37 advantage, a mopping delay ensued.
Lyndie Puckett replaced the ill Matosky and drilled both foul shots. Matosky then re-entered to help close out the Eagles.
“It was her just challenging herself to push through, and I think she had that little moment of ‘uh oh,’ that reflex of going a little too hard,” Jackson said. “But that’s how she always plays — 110 percent and she always has that motor going. Tonight, she pushed herself to her very limit.”
While Matosky’s perseverance undoubtedly earned the respect of her peers, things weren’t as rosy in the home locker room.
“We knew what was at stake,” said Prins, who led Broomfield with 13 points. “But we also knew that if we played to the pressure, we would struggle. And I do feel like we played to the pressure a little bit.”
Stacie Hull added 11 points for the Eagles, who made several mini-runs but never seemed to get over the hump after falling to an early deficit.
“It’s definitely hard to lose on our home court,” Prins said. “I thought maybe we had all our losses out of our system and I was really hoping we would get this one. But for every loss, you can learn something and you can always get better.”
Centaurus won the first meeting 53-51 on Jan. 19, but that was at home, amidst a long winning steak and took some overtime heroics from Houck to pull off. This time, no such drama was needed, although the Warriors felt the heat whenever Broomfield made a push.
“We had to stay disciplined and go back to basics,” Hubbell said. “I think tonight really showed how well we can work together and how great we can be when we play together.”
Centaurus 45, Broomfield 38
At Broomfield HS
CENTAURUS (18-3, 11-2)
Matosky 3 6-6 12, Ortega 1 2-2 4, Hubbell 5 1-2 11, Houck 5 4-7 14, Langer 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-2 0, Puckett 0 2-2 2, Manfredini 0 0-0 0, Patterson 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 15-21 45.
BROOMFIELD (18-4, 11-2)
Prins 6 1-2 13, Zec 1 1-2 3, Kaiser 2 2-2 6, Rynearson 0 0-0 0, Wilber 0 0-0 0, Croell 0 0-0 0, Lehrer 2 1-1 5, Schreter 0 0-0 0, Hull 4 3-4 11. Totals 15 8-12 38.
Score by quarters:
Centaurus 12 9 10 14 — 45
Broomfield 10 8 8 12 — 38
3-point field goals — None. Total fouls — Centaurus 17, Broomfield 17. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.