LONGMONT — For the past two weeks, Erie boys basketball coach Tim Leahy has professed faith in his club even while the Tigers endured a losing streak that reached four games.
Leahy believed his team wasn’t playing poorly during that stretch, and that the losing streak had more to do with missing out on a key play here or there in close games than any particular funk on the part of the Tigers.
On Tuesday, Erie finally got the result it was looking for. The Tigers took control with a big run during the first quarter and went on to answer every Skyline challenge the rest of the way to post a 58-51 victory in a Tri-Valley League tilt.
Erie posted its first win since Jan. 8 while ending its four-game slide. Skyline continued to dig itself into a deeper hole in the conference standings, suffering its fourth loss in a row and its ninth in 10 games after starting the season 3-0.
“These kids, last year as sophomores and freshmen they took their lumps,” Leahy said. “This year, obviously they’re older and they’ve gone through the battles a little bit. We’ve been able to handle (pressure) a little bit better. For the most part, we played mentally tough.”
Erie (5-8, 3-3 Tri-Valley League) scored 17 consecutive points during the first quarter, turning an early 7-2 deficit into a 19-7 lead. The Tigers retained their 12-point edge going into the second and never trailed after their early burst, yet Erie still had to answer several challenges by the host Falcons.
Each and every time Skyline drew within striking distance, Erie knocked down a key shot or put together an answering run to keep the Falcons at bay. When seven consecutive points by Skyline at the start of the second quarter pulled the Falcons within five, Erie responded with a 7-1 run. When Skyline scored seven consecutive points early in the third to draw within six points, Erie’s Dylan Brink reversed the momentum by knocking down consecutive 3-pointers.
Skyline (4-9, 1-5) again pulled within six points late in the fourth, but another 3-pointer by Brink diffused what proved to be Skyline’s final comeback attempt.
“High school basketball isn’t about who has the most talent. It’s about who plays with the most poise and composure and does the most basic things correctly more times than the other team, and we don’t do that,” Skyline coach Michael Peterson said. “There were three occasions where we went from double-digits down to single digits. And every time we got to four or six points, we had no composure.”
Brink knocked down five of Erie’s eight 3-pointers and led all scorers with 23 points. Kyle Leahy added 11 points for the Tigers. Erie senior Blake Baker, a regular starter who averages 10.1 points a game, was out of the lineup due to an illness.
Luciano Quesada led Skyline with 16 points. Although the Falcons’ leading scorer, Colton Dabney, turned in a strong all-around game, he was limited to just one shot attempt in the first half before finishing with eight points.
“We were just trying to make the extra pass, and we knew we could break down their defense,” Brink said. “We shot pretty good tonight, so that worked out. We were trying to get over that corner and we did it tonight. Hopefully we can keep it going in the future.”
Follow Pat on Twitter: @prooney07
Erie 58, Skyline 51
At Skyline HS
ERIE (5-8, 3-3)
Leahy 4 3-4 11, C. Brink 3 1-2 8, D. Brink 8 2-5 23, Melton 0 0-0 0, Tallman 1 0-0 2, Smith 3 0-1 8, Egan 2 2-2 6, Lucas 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 8-14 58.
SKYLINE (4-9, 1-5)
Stuvel 2 0-2 5, Anthony 4 2-3 10, Quesada 6 1-2 16, Mandrell 3 0-0 8, Dabney 4 0-2 8, Soriano 0 0-0 0, Steakley 0 2-2 2, Mansanares 1 0-0 2, Helgeland 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 5-11 51.
Score by quarters:
Erie 23 10 12 13 — 58
Skyline 11 11 11 18 — 51
3-point field goals — Erie (8): D. Brink 5, Smith 2, C. Brink; Skyline (6): Quesada 3, Mandrell 2, Stuvel. Total fouls — Erie 18, Skyline 15. Fouled out — Tallman.