Boys basketball: Longmont remains undefeated after closing out Classic

LONGMONT -— Long winning streaks to start the season are certainly not unusual for the Longmont boys basketball team.

Indeed, they’re more the norm than the exception.

In fact, this season marks the fifth time in the past seven years that the Trojans have reeled off at least five straight victories to open the season. Ironically, last year wasn’t one of the five despite the fact that LHS went on to win the 4A state title.

On Saturday in the final game of the Trojan Classic, Longmont improved to 8-0 with a 67-28 rout of Berthoud. It was the third victory in 44 hours for the Trojan Classic champions, who are ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 4A.

If Longmont was tired with the grueling schedule, it certainly hid it well. The Trojans used a smothering full-court press early in the game to set the tone and forced 10 turnovers en route to opening up a 15-2 lead late in the first quarter.

“Coming into the third game of the tournament, our legs were a little bit tired, but we knew we had to bring the same energy regardless of how we felt,” said senior Oakley Dehning, who scored six points off turnovers in the first two minutes and finished with four steals and nine points for the game. “We did a good job setting the tone early with our defense. Our defense leads to our offense so it’s really important for us to have energy early and get steals early because that’s what gets us our points as well.”

Longmont finished with 16 steals for the game and Berthoud (3-3) ended up with a whopping 28 turnovers.

It was the second time in the first 2 1/2 weeks of the season that the Trojans have held an opponent under 30 points, and the third time they’ve won by at least 39 points.

“We wanted that intensity from the get-go,” said coach Jeff Kloster, now in his 25th season at the LHS helm. “We thought if we brought that, all of a sudden the game would shift immediately into our favor. We got tons of steals and they resulted in transition points. I thought that defense set the tone for the whole game.

“The other thing I was really happy to see was the way we shared the ball. The ball was in and out of our hands so quickly and it didn’t give them time to react.”

Five players scored at least eight points for the Trojans, who were led offensively by Ryan Schneider, who finished with 12 off the bench.

“We had a lot of different kids step up, which saved our legs,” said Dehning, Longmont’s quarterback during football season. “Anyone can step up on any night. We don’t have a one guy (that always carries the load). It’s a team mentality through and through. What’s what’s going to get us where we want to go.”

Speaking of LHS football, senior Jaydon Elkins has been a contributor despite breaking his collarbone — then re-injuring it six weeks later — in football. He’s also suffered a hip bruise and a twisted ankle in hoops. Elkins scored five points Saturday after sitting out Friday’s game against Littleton.

“He’s been kind of toughing it out. That kind of tells you his character,” Kloster said. “The kid is just a competitor. That’s the thing I love about these seniors. They’re paving the path for the underclassmen as far as their toughness.”

Though Longmont’s eight-game victory streak to start the season is impressive, it’s nowhere near the longest in recent history for the Trojans. That distinction belongs to the 2014-15 team that went 27-0 before losing in the state title game. And the ’15-16 squad won its first 11.

For those wondering, even though the 2017-18 LHS team claimed the 4A state title and went 26-2, it lost its second game of the season.

Longmont will wrap up its pre-Christmas schedule on Wednesday by hosting Discovery Canyon.

Longmont 67, Berthoud 28

At Longmont HS

BERTHOUD (3-3)

Lozinski 3 0-1 7, Poll 1 0-0 3, Peacock 3 0-1 6, Carr 1 0-0 2, Burkett 1 0-0 3, Hardy 1 0-1 2, Hoogland 1 0-0 2, Stratmeyer 0 0-1 0, Gazdik 0 1-2 1, Doyle 0 2-4 2. Totals 11 3-10 28. .

LONGMONT (8-0)

Renck 4 0-0 8, Eye 2 1-2 5, Dehning 3 3-4 9, Page 3 2-3 10, Seamons 5 1-1 11, Schneider 6 0-0 12, Yazzie 0 0-0 0, Derksen 1 0-1 3, Elkins 2 1-2 5, Rulon 0 0-0 0, Sprecher 1 0-0 2, Kurjak 0 0-0 0, D’Epagnier 1 0-0 1. Totals 28 8-13 67.

Score by quarters:

Berthoud            6 10 10 2  — 28

Longmont             18 21 24 4 — 67

3-point field goals — Berthoud (3): Lozinski, Poll, Burkett; Longmont: (3): Page 2, Derksen. Total fouls — Berthoud 15, Longmont 18. Fouled out — none.