• Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer

    Longmont's Justinian Jessup puts up a shot between Niwot High School's Walker Bounds (No. 11), Adam Barber (No. 21) and Mason Lopez (No. 3) on Tuesday. More photos: BoCoPreps.com.

  • Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer

    Longmont's Eli Sullivan drives around Niwot's Ryan Kannegieter (No. 20) on Tuesday.



NIWOT — Season-long CHSAANow.com poll No. 1 and returning 4A runner-up, the Longmont boys basketball team has rolled right along through the first month or so of the 2015-16 season.

The top-ranked Longmont boys basketball team is still undefeated but Tuesday’s road game against Niwot was a reminder that no team is inherently immune to off nights or highly-motivated opponents. At Niwot High School, it took the visiting Trojans until the fourth quarter to finally pull away from the Cougars and win 48-38.

“You’ve got to give credit to Niwot because Niwot came ready to play,” Longmont head coach Jeff Kloster said. “They shot a high percentage, they played really good team defense and they put us on our heels. We got a little out of control and had too many turnovers early on in the game. It’s a great game for us as far as an opportunity to learn and if we can do that, we can become a better team.”

The Longmont Trojans (10-0, 3-0 Northern) and the Niwot Cougars (4-7, 1-2 Northern) were tied 6-6 at the end of the first quarter and 17-17 at halftime. Even as the Trojans began to create a little breathing room in the third, Cougars guard Jackson Kolakowski hit a 3-pointer from 10 feet behind the arc to cut the lead to 27-23 to start the fourth.

Twice in the fourth quarter, senior forward Kevin Mitchell made baskets that gave the Trojans double-digit leads, including an isolation inbounds play with 1:39 left that put the Trojans up 11. Mitchell missed the first month of the season and returned to action against Skyline on Saturday and finished with 15 points against Niwot.

“We just started off slow and we really underestimated them,” Mitchell said. “This was my second game back so I was kind of nervous. But I’m starting to get the hang of things. I was able to get open against their zone and my teammates found me for some plays.”

Looking to bounce back after a loss to Silver Creek (8-4, 2-1 Northern) on Saturday, the Cougars gained some much needed confidence from hanging with the state’s top team for three quarters.

“We knew what we were getting ourselves into and our boys were hungry,” Cougars head coach Preston Hardy said. “Today we took a step forward. We now believe that we can play with anybody in the state.”

Longmont will play next at Mountain View (6-5, 2-0 Northern) on Friday. Niwot will host Thompson Valley (6-4, 2-0 Northern) on Friday.

Brad Cochi: cochib@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BradCochi

Longmont 48, Niwot 38

At Niwot H.S.

LONGMONT (10-0, 3-0)

Sullivan 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Jessup 5 4-4 15, Speidel 2 0-0 5, Rothe 0 0-1 0, Bachman 4 5-7 13, Rulon 0 0-0 0, Mugunga 0 0-0 0, Mitchell 6 3-3 15. Totals 17 12-15 48.

NIWOT (4-7, 1-2)

Kolakowski 2 0-0 5, Lopez 0 0-0 0, Sims 0 0-0 0, Ho 1 0-0 2, Bounds 4 0-0 9, Ramirez 0 0-0 0, Radatz 0 0-0 0, Kannegieter 2 0-0 6, Barber 2 0-2 4, Agado 2 5-7 10, Vigil 1 0-0 2, Oliver 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 5-9 38.

Score by quarters:







3-point field goals —
Longmont (2): Jessup, Speidel; Niwot (5): Kannegieter 2, Agado, Bounds, Kolakowski. Total fouls —
Longmont 16, Niwot 17.