Daily Camera file photo
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT — Longmont made a point of attacking the rim early Tuesday night. Then, it stepped back and swished from deep.
Eddie Kurjak had a career-high 20 points and Dallas Dye had 17, leading an efficient offensive performance in a 67-30 win over Niwot.
The Trojans (9-2, 3-0 4A Northern), ranked seventh in the latest CHSAANow.com coaches poll, had eight consecutive layups to begin the game before taking their first jump shot.
When it eventually cast off behind the perimeter, they were lethal, too. They finished 7-of-12 from 3 on the night.
“The thing is we always stress inside-out (offense),” Longmont coach Jeff Kloster said. “We knew they kind of run a pack-line defense, so we knew the 3 would probably be available at all times. But we didn’t want to settle early with that. We wanted to emphasize getting it inside and wanted to see how they were going to play us. … We were efficient from 3 as the game went on, and it was because we were efficient going inside, then out.”
Four different players for Kloster’s bunch opened the scoring, serving as the backend of tight passes in the paint that led to easy hoops. Kurjak’s 3-point play gave Longmont an 11-2 lead in the first quarter. Dye then had eight quick points as part of a 10-3 run to push the lead to 21-7 early in the second.
Longmont’s first jumper came on Dye’s 3 with 4:52 left in the half, a feather touch. He finished with three 3s on the night. Devon Nowells, who finished with 12 points, had two others.
Sage Yazzie and Ryan Schneider each added another from deep in the final minutes before the break as the lead grew to 35-11. Dye had two more in the third to push the advantage to 35, which forced a running clock in the fourth.
The win was the Trojans’ sixth straight overall and fifth in a row over their crosstown foe. They are now 24-2 against the Cougars since 2007. And in the Northern League, they’ve now won 31 straight.
“I love all my guys and I wouldn’t want to go into battle with any other group than the group I have now,” said Dye, one of the team’s two returning varsity players (along with Schneider) from 2018-19 4A runner-up team. “The guys last year were great. We lost some tremendous guys — some great scorers. But we’re gelling, we’re finding new ways to get to the rim and we’re finding open shots. I think our confidence is through the roof right now.”
Niwot (7-5, 2-1) has made a strong impression this season under first-year coach Clay Wittrock, starting with a good showing in nonconference before beating Northridge and Thompson Valley to open league play.
Then it hit a blockade against the town’s basketball power.
Kyle Reeves scored nine and Cooper Sheldon had seven for the Cougars, who finished with a season low in points.
Despite the blowout, Kloster praised the recharged program and its new frontman.
“Clay has done a really, really good job,” Kloster said. “I think he’s instilled a culture. Anytime you take something over, you have to change the culture. Just watching and breaking down films, he’s getting a lot out of his players. … There’s a lot of great things I’m seeing from them.”
Niwot will travel to Greeley Central Friday, while Longmont will host Centaurus.