LAFAYETTE — After defeating Broomfield Tuesday to put themselves in the driver’s seat for the Northern League title, the Centaurus girls knew they needed one more win against Niwot Thursday night to seal the deal.
And right from the jump the Warriors made it clear that they had no intention of letting the league championship slip from their grasp.
Centaurus scored early and often, and held the Cougars without a field goal for the first 7 minutes and 52 seconds of the game en route to a dominant 64-22 victory that clinched the Warriors’ first-place regular season finish.
Team captains Andi Houck and Maurissa Ortega celebrated their Senior Night in great fashion, leading the way with 23 points and 13 points, respectively. Houck also grabbed 11 rebounds and made it nearly impossible for the under-sized Cougars to score inside.
“It feels amazing,” said Houck. “Especially having it be my senior year, to have us finish so strong in league and to win it at home makes it extra special.”
The Warriors sprinted out to an 11-0 lead within the first 5 minutes of the game and didn’t give up a bucket until Niwot scored on an in-bounds play with 8 seconds remaining in the period. The Cougar basket cut the lead to 17-3 as the first quarter ended.
Centaurus continued to play tight “D” throughout the remainder of the half, again allowing only one basket in the second quarter and pushing its lead to 33-5 by intermission. The Warriors took advantage of a number of Cougar turnovers and were able run in transition, seemingly turning the game into a lay-up drill at times.
But Niwot seemed to find a second wind as the third quarter began. After head coach Clark Burton received a technical for passionately arguing with the officials over a foul call just before the first half ended, he seemed to inspire his squad coming out of the locker room. The Cougars hit a couple of perimeter shots and forced Centaurus to turn the ball over several times throughout the third, playing the Warriors to an 11-11 tie over the 8 minute period.
However CHS returned to its earlier form as the fourth began, going on an 11-2 run to start the quarter, spearhead by three steals in a span of two minutes by Ortega. The Warriors were then able to empty their bench for much of the remainder of the game and coast to the victory.
“It really was (a goal to win the league),” said Centaurus head coach Jeff Jackson. “It’s a tough conference. … The ladies overcame some adversity and battled and it’s a testament to their abilities and their hustle and effort.”
The Warriors will now have time to rest and recover before their first playoff game. They are almost certainly guaranteed one of the top seeds when the bracket for the 4A state tournament is released on Sunday, which would earn them a first-round bye.
“We have a lot of bigger goals and we don’t want this to be the high-point of the season,” Jackson said. “Now we’re going to see how we can do in playoffs and see if we can make it Boulder possibly.”
The Class 4A final four is held at the Coors Events Center on the University of Colorado campus beginning March 7.
Centaurus 64, Niwot 22
At Centaurus HS
Montgomery 0 1-2 1, Hensen 0 0-0 0, Balsley 2 0-0 4, Sarosi 1 0-0 2, Trauner 1 1-1 3, Blick 1 0-0 2, Bishop 0 0-0 0, Sigg 0 0-0 0, Olsen 2 0-0 4, Dunnell 0 2-4 2, Discipio 2 0-0 4. Totals 9 4-7 22.
Anderson 1 0-0 2, Puckett 1 3-4 5, Langer 1 2-6 4, Motosky 2 0-0 4, Manfredini 1 0-0 2, Ortega 4 4-8 13, Patterson 3 1-4 7, Harriger 0 0-2 0, Hubbell 0 1-2 1, Romero 1 1-2 3, Houck 10 3-7 23. Totals 24 15-35 64.
Score by quarters:
Niwot 3 2 11 6 — 22
Centaurus 17 16 11 20 — 64
3-point field goals — Niwot (0); Centaurus (1): Ortega. Total fouls — Niwot 19, Centaurus 6. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — Niwot coach.