LONGMONT — Despite trailing by as many as eight points in the first half, the Silver Creek boys basketball team wasn’t about to see its season end in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament.
Led by the scoring of senior Zach Noesen and sophomore Andrew Scott, who combined for 39 points and 10 3-pointers, the Raptors rallied in the second half and then weathered a late storm by Thomas Jefferson to take a 72-70 victory Saturday at Silver Creek.
The Raptors, who won their eighth straight game to improve to 17-7, advance to face top seed Mead in the Sweet 16 on Wednesday.
“It was a tremendous playoff game,” Silver Creek head coach Bob Banning said. “For it being a home site on a Saturday in the round of 32, it was 16 against 17, two very close teams and I think it played out that way.”
Trailing 28-22 at halftime, the Raptors stormed out of the locker room to start the third quarter, quickly tying the game in the first few minutes on a 3-pointer by Noesen. That was part of a 20-6 run that gave Silver Creek a 42-34 lead, their largest of the game.
“We started a little bit slow and our shots weren’t falling and I think in the second half, we really upped our defense, which helped us a lot,” Noesen said.
Noesen finished with 19 points.
Following a 3-pointer by Scott to give the Raptors a 45-37 lead, the Spartans slowly chipped away at the Silver Creek advantage and tied the game at 47-47 before a 3-pointer by Noesen at the buzzer gave the Raptors a 50-47 lead going into the final period.
“I think we just knew we had to bring a lot more energy to win the game,” Scott said. “We came out as a team and showed them our style of play, which is ball pressure and running the floor.”
Scott finished with a team-high 20 points for the Raptors.
In the final few minutes, Silver Creek took a 68-61 lead on a 3-pointer by Scott, but the Spartans went on a 9-2 run to close the gap to two points and found themselves with the ball and a chance to win or tie with 5.6 seconds remaining.
A missed shot, an offensive rebound and another missed shot by the Spartans were followed by the Raptors getting a hold of the ball and getting it out of harm’s way as time expired.
“I would have liked to have been a little softer, but I also thought they were going to go for the win,” Banning said. “The truth is, they went with a playset that would give them a sure 2. I thought they were going to go inside-outside, so we were covering that up. They had an opportunity because of that.”
Thomas Jefferson was led by Darius Hornbuckle, who scored a game-high 28 points – 18 via six 3-pointers, the last of which cut the Raptors’ lead to 2 with just under 6 seconds remaining.
Back in the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons, the Raptors are looking forward to the challenge ahead in the Mavericks.
“We definitely want to take this momentum into the next game and hopefully keep going,” Noesen said. “It is a challenge for us and I think if we come out and play Silver Creek basketball, we are going to win.”