LONGMONT — Entering the third week of Northern League play, the Longmont girls basketball team was given the opportunity to separate itself a bit from the crowd at the head of the conference’s standings.
The squad took care of business at home on Tuesday, knocking off a Thompson Valley team that had previously lost just one league game. Playing hosts again on Friday evening, the Trojans went to battle with a Greeley Central squad that also entered the contest with just one league loss.
But the confines of the LHS gymnasium proved no more friendly to the Wildcats than it did the Eagles, as the Trojans notched a 49-37 victory, the team’s seventh straight win. The victory moved Longmont to 6-0 in conference play and, thanks to a Silver Creek loss at Thompson Valley, into sole possession of the top spot in the Northern League.
“One of our main goals was just to play with intensity,” Longmont head coach Mike Knaus said. “And I thought we set the tone with our defense, and that leads to good offense, especially in the first half when we were able to get out and run.”
After a slow start in the first quarter from both teams, things began to heat up in the second period. Leading 13-6 with 6:30 to play, the Trojans (11-3, 6-0) proceeded to go on a 10-0 spurt over the course of the next 3:40, a run which sophomore Sarah Nichols contributed six points to.
The pressure applied by the Longmont defense gave Greeley Central (12-3, 4-2) fits, as the Wildcats turned the ball over seven times in the quarter. GCHS was finally able to gain a little bit of composure down the stretch, and went 4 of 4 from line to close out the final minute of the half and cut the margin to 12 heading into intermission.
While Greeley Central was able to slow things down in the third by hanging on to the ball and sitting back in a 2-3 zone on defense, the Wildcats had no answer for the play of Longmont’s Madi Gaibler. The junior set up shop in the high post and went to work, scoring seven of the Trojans’ final nine points in the frame. Her last bucket of the quarter came on a turnaround jumper with just seconds remaining on the clock and pushed the lead to 15.
“They had me running high because I like my jump shot from the top of the key,” Gaibler said of the offensive set. “And I can also look at Sydney (Wetterstrom) for that dish. They were double-teaming for a little bit, and then they kind of backed off of me for a little, so I just stood there and shot.”
Gaibler hit another jumper to cap a 6-0 run that began the fourth for the Trojans, pushing the lead to 21. Mercifully for the visitors, the junior picked up her fifth foul on a charge with just under 3 minutes to play, ending her night with a team-high 17 points.
With Gaibler doing most of the heavy lifting offensively, Wetterstrom wasn’t asked to take many shots on the night. But the Longmont star, who entered averaging nearly 20 points per game, hit most of the ones she did attempt, finishing with eight points to go along with nine rebounds.
Next up for the Trojans is a battle with the cross-town Raptors, as Longmont will travel to SCHS on Tuesday for a showdown between the league’s top two squads. The contest promises to be another competitive affair between the rivals, as per usual.
“Everyone is so excited for that game,” Gaibler said. “It’ll be a very intense practice on Saturday and Monday, but I think everyone is ready to go out and get it.”
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Longmont 49, Greeley Central 37
At Longmont HS
GREELEY CENTRAL (12-3, 4-2)
Sarah Nichols 1 4-4 6, Grace Hamm 1 1-2 3, Sydney Wetterstrom 5 2-2 12, Madi Gaibler 7 3-5 17, Kyra Duffy 0 1-2 1, Alexis Cox 2 0-0 4, Sydney Fixmer 0 0-2 0, , Kennedy Sheetz 3 0-0 6, Sam Wiley 0 0-1 0. Totals 19 11-18 49.
LONGMONT (11-3, 6-0)
Kendra Steffen 0 3-3 3, Mallory Cranwell 1 1-2 3, Miracle Guzman 0 2-4 2, Andrea Williams 5 11-14 21, Marley Appelhans 1 3-4 5, Korina Ramirez 1 0-0 3. Totals 8 20-27 37.
Score by quarters:
Greeley Central 4 13 8 12 — 37
Longmont 9 20 11 9 — 49
3-point field goals — Greeley Central (1): Ramirez; Longmont (0). Total fouls — Longmont 22, Greeley Central 21.