FREDERICK — In some respects, it seems like there are three starts for the high school basketball season: the regular-season opener, the first game after the holiday break and the league opener.
Judging by that, the Frederick boys are fast out of the blocks. As for Niwot, not so much.
Frederick, which won its season opener, added a victory in the first game of the new year on Friday night, prevailing 55-46 at home over Niwot, which has dropped its first game of the season and the first of 2013.
The result is that Frederick is 5-3 going into Saturday’s Tri-Valley League opener at Windsor, while Niwot will start the Northern League season — Tuesday at Thompson Valley — with a 4-4 mark.
“This gives us a lot of momentum, gives our confidence a boost, and lets us know we can compete with anybody if we play defense like that,” said senior Ryan Miller, who led Frederick with 20 points, including 10 in the second quarter.
The Warriors held Niwot to 16 points in the final 17 minutes of the game. Overall, the Cougars shot just 29 percent from the field and turned over the ball 19 times.
The game was tied eight times in the first half — the last at 30 — but Frederick pulled away by applying additional defensive pressure and wearing down Niwot. And on offense, going inside to Miller proved fruitful.
“(The Warriors) were actually pretty smart about it because our bench was really thin tonight — we had a couple of one-game suspensions we were dealing with — so we were in foul trouble,” Niwot coach Travis Maron said. “They recognized that and knew we weren’t going to play as physical, so they just went right at us, which is the same thing I would do if you can see the other team had to back off a little.”
Niwot, which hadn’t played since Dec. 15, hit its first 15 free-throw attempts, but even that wasn’t enough to keep up with Frederick, especially with how effective Miller was for the Warriors.
“I was just feeling it tonight, and I have to thank my teammates for getting me the ball down low,” Miller said.
“He’s the hardest worker in the program,” FHS coach Larry Frank said. “When you have a guy that works hard, we make sure we let his teammates know they’ve got to get him the ball.
“He gets the most out of his talent and he does some good things just by playing physical and playing hard. That’s hard to beat when you’ve got heart and drive and determination like that young man does.”
Lucas Adams set up Miller for a lot of his hoops, and the guard added 13 points of his own.
With leading scorer Jordan Keeler not playing for Niwot, the Cougars were led by Nate Merriman and Forrest Lee, who tallied 11 points each.
Frederick 55, Niwot 46
At Frederick HS
A. Hart 1 0-0 3, Lee 3 5-8 11, Merriman 3 4-4 11, Kolakowski 2 2-2 6, Bounds 2 4-6 8, J. Hart 1 4-4 7. Totals 12 19-24 46.
Adams 3 7-7 13, McGraw 1 0-1 2, Therrien 1 1-2 4, Martinez 0 0-0 0, Miller 7 6-7 20, Burgess 1 0-0 2, Rivera 2 0-0 5, Wise 3 0-1 6, Gomez 0 0-0 0, Broz 1 0-0 3. Totals 19 14-18 55.
Score by quarters:
Niwot 14 16 5 11 — 46
Frederick 14 20 7 14 — 55
3-point field goals — Niwot (3): A. Hart, Merriman, J. Hart; Frederick (3): Therrien, Broz, Rivera. Total fouls — Niwot 16, Frederick 20. Fouled out — Lee, McGraw. Technical fouls –none.