GREELEY — It seemed somewhat fitting that Greeley Central had a “Turn Back the Clock” night on Thursday against Broomfield at the Jim Baggot Gym.
After all, you would have to go back some 30 years to find the last time the Eagles even had a losing season, let alone one this “historically bad” according to some in the program.
Despite the 56-43 loss to the Wildcats and the atrocious 5-16 overall and 2-10 Northern League records that come with it, head coach Terrence Dunn and his Eagles still have an outside shot — albeit very slim — at sneaking into the Class 4A playoffs.
“Right now we are talking about playing hard and playing hard every possession,” said Dunn, whose team has played well in stretch but has been able to find that quality for a full 32 minutes all season.
“We are giving up easy buckets, we are turning the ball over and we are standing around on offense. It’s all about little goals right now and those little goals will build up to bigger goals.”
If ever there was a snippet of a game that summed up the Eagles’ season, it was a 5-minute stretch of the fourth quarter — with the team still in the game, down 42-36 — where if something could go wrong, it did.
Silly turnovers, miscommunication, and when the Eagles got an open look, either they were called for an offensive foul or the shot just didn’t drop. What was a two-possession game quickly became a double-digit deficit and the intensity and focus of being in a game turned into hanging heads.
“A lot of it is confidence,” said sophomore Nate Lehnerz, who wants to help his senior teammates finish with a flourish. “We just don’t have any confidence and we don’t come out with any confidence.”
Greeley Central (15-6, 8-4), firmly in the No. 3 spot in the Northern League standings, used its superior speed and lights-out shooting touch to keep the Eagles on their heels. Broomfield fell behind 7-0 in the foul count midway through the third quarter and it just became that much tougher for them to try and defend and the Wildcats took advantage.
“We got frustrated with the foul count and just stopped playing defense,” Dunn said. “You cut the game down to two and then you turn the ball over and you find ourselves down eight to 10 again. It’s putting it all together is what we have to do.”
The hot hand for Greeley Central on Thursday night wasn’t leading scorer Matt Garcia, although the 5-foot-5 dart of a guard did finish with 10 points. Instead it was 6-foot-2, 290-pound senior Edwardo Hernandez, who set the tone knocking down a silky 3-pointer for the first points of the game, that led all scorers with 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting.
“They are fast and they can shoot the crap out of the ball,” said Lehnerz, who knows it is imperative for his team to try and get wins next week against Niwot and Centaurus — two team they have already beat this season.
“Obviously the season hasn’t met our expectations, but I think what we are going to do is come out hard, we are going to play our butts off the last two games and hopefully make the playoffs.”
The Eagles were led by Noah Dohm’s 10 points of the bench. Leading scorer Alec McLain struggled to find his touch from long range and finished with just nine points. Lehnerz chipped in with eight.
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Greeley Central 56, Broomfield 43
At Greeley Central
BROOMFIELD (5-16, 2-10)
Sam Foster 0 0-0 0, Josh Williamson 0 3-4 3, Jake Morris 1 4-4 6, Nate Lehnerz 3 0-0 8, Jack Burgesser 1 1-2 3, Noah Dohm 3 4-4 10, Alec McLain 4 0-1 9, Payton Holloway 0 0-0 0, Zach Grennan 1 0-0 2, Michael Wristen 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 12-15 43.
GREELEY CENTRAL (15-6, 8-4)
Daniel Vigil 3 1-2 8, Tyus Villarreal 1 0-4 2, Jevon Martinez 2 4-6 8, Matt Garcia 4 1-2 10, Anthony Perez 1 3-4 5, Isaiah Barrera 0 2-2 2, Kortne Ford 2 2-2 6, Travis Lechman 0 0-0 0, Edwardo Hernandez 7 0-0 15, Andreu Cotto 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 13-22 56.
Score by quarters:
Broomfield 7 15 12 9 — 43
Greeley Central 13 14 13 16 — 56
3-point field goals — Broomfield (3): Lehnerz 2, McLain; Greeley Central (3): Vigil, Martinez, Hernandez. Total fouls — Broomfield 22; Greeley Central 14.