LONGMONT — Silver Creek’s Rhythm Ajanku had Niwot defenders dancing to his beat all night long on Saturday night.
That’s starting to be a common theme for the Raptors’ opponents, and head coach Bob Banning is continuing to loosen the leash on the senior point guard for good reason.
A first-year varsity player for Banning, Ajanku’s flash is starting to gain some notoriety. Against the Cougars in a 56-39 Northern League win, Ajanku scored 23 points, leading the charge early as Silver Creek stormed to a huge lead.
Anthony Kasper helped the cause with 13 tough points, too, and Silver Creek improved to 7-4 after losing Friday night’s Northern opener to Mountain View.
“He’s really starting to come into his own, and he’s really starting to become a takeover player,” Banning said of Ajanku, who bided his time to get out on the varsity floor but is making the most of it. “He reminds me a lot of a kid I had at Niwot named Wayland Harris, just a very similar style.
“We’ve talked about his instinctiveness, and yes, he’s doing more of that because I have asked him to.”
Ajanku did a lot of damage at the line, going 12-for-13, but he didn’t get to the line passively. Instead, he had several opportunities for traditional 3-point plays with his dribble penetration.
“The offense that we run, a lot of the times we let it open up for me so that I can attack or just handle the ball and be a floor general, and tonight was one of those games,” said Ajanku, who scored 19 in the loss to the Mountain Lions. “I want to put myself on the map to help my team.
“We were hungry after (Friday).”
The Raptors made life tough in general on the Cougars (4-6, 1-1 Northern) by shooting the lights out of the building in the first quarter and a half of play. Andrew Rapp and Reese Barracks were finishing shots inside, and Kasper had several breakout chances that led to easy buckets.
The Cougars got good looks to fall in the second half of play, but Niwot could not get those same good looks to drop early on. Silver Creek led 19-2 at the end of one quarter and 28-7 at halftime.
“I was real pleased with our start defensively, and that allowed us to get on some breakouts,” Banning said. “As a team, there’s a different gear that we’re learning to play at right now.”
Niwot next faces Longmont on Tuesday, while Silver Creek will play Centaurus.
Silver Creek 56, Niwot 39
At Silver Creek HS
NIWOT (4-6, 1-1)
Joseph Ho 1 0-0 2, Walker Bounds 2 3-4 7, Roberto Ramirez 2 0-0 4, Noah Radatz 1 1-2 3, Ryan Kannegeiter 0 1-2 1, Adam Barber 3 1-2 8, Michael Agado 3 2-4 8, Danoto Rios 0 0-0 0, Shane Ryan 1 0-0 2, team 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 8-14 39.
SILVER CREEK (7-4, 1-1)
Rhythm Ajanku 5 12-13 23, Reese Barracks 3 2-3 8, Anthony Kasper 3 6-6 13, Andrew Rapp 3 0-2 6, Sam Schlegel 0 1-2 0, Khari Harrison 1 0-0 2, Hunter Becvar 1 0-0 2, Christian Warner 0 1-2 1. Totals 16 21-27 .
Score by quarters:
Niwot 2 5 12 20 — 39
3-point field goals — Niwot (1): Barber; Silver Creek (2): Ajanku, Kasper.