LONGMONT — Every rivalry game in high school basketball comes with a heightened level of passion and intensity, and No. 2 Longmont’s visit to crosstown rival Skyline on Wednesday night didn’t disappoint.
From start to finish, the Trojans and Falcons brought the fire and kept each other on their toes. In the end, the Trojans got the better of their hosts with a 42-36 victory, their third in a row since falling to Holy Family in their only loss of the season. The win allowed Longmont to keep its crucial crown atop the 4A/5A NCAC ahead of No. 1 Windsor — with a not-to-miss matchup between those two set for Tuesday night.
“We had an 11-point lead and then we let it filter down to six,” Longmont coach Jeff Kloster said. “I’m glad for the kids as far as the win, but we’ve got to continue to get better. Any time that we play Skyline, we know we’re going to get their best shot.”
The Trojans advanced to 9-1 on the season and 6-1 in league as the Falcons fell to 2-8 and 1-6.
“In rivalry games, I love playing them, to be honest,” Eddie Kurjak said. “Everyone brings their A-game and everyone wants to win a crosstown rivalry, especially in this conference. Skyline’s had some tough losses. Maybe they should have won a couple. I don’t think their record shows what kind of team they are because they gave us a tough game.”
Skyline’s senior guard, Adrian Compian, rose to the occasion to lead the Falcons’ offensive drive with 13 points. Senior center Nick Peterson wasn’t far behind with seven.
Coming into Wednesday night’s game, Kurjak ranked third in scoring in the league with 168 points in nine games, or 18.7 points per game. Senior forward Keegan Patterson likewise ranked sixth in the league with 129 points, good for 14.3 ppg. Both led their team in scoring with 17 and 11 points, respectively.
Skyline brought the intensity early as the Falcons built up an opening 4-0 lead. Their 2-3 zone worked nicely as it slowed Longmont’s offensive push and kept the Trojans at bay.
Still, the Trojans adjusted quickly to match the Falcons’ white-hot energy. It didn’t take long for 4A’s second-best team to take an advantage, thanks in large part to Kurjak’s dominant presence in the post.
At the half, the Trojans led narrowly at 19-14 as the Falcons kept Longmont firmly in their grasp. A strong defensive presence on both sides of the ball kept the contest exciting early on, as was expected for a league rivalry matchup.
“We look forward to this game a lot, so I knew that all my guys were going to come prepared. It’s just an effort and I’m proud of (us),” Compian said. “If we keep playing like this, I think we actually got a shot at entering playoffs.”
Both teams carried that momentum into the opening minutes of the second half, as Skyline worked to tie the game at 21-21 just two minutes in, a mark that Compian secured with a flawless triple.
That was all the fuel Longmont needed to kick it into gear.
Over the course of the next two minutes, the Trojans responded with six unanswered points. Still, the Falcons persisted. Longmont led 32-25 at the end of the third frame.
In the end, the Trojans came out on top as they continue to find success on the hardwood.
“These guys have been through a lot, we lost our team leader, Hayden Robison, who hasn’t played all year (torn ACL). We started with no practice for four new starters,” Skyline coach Tyler Cerveny said. “We’re just going to keep growing and fighting. I’m proud of their effort tonight and if we just make a few shots, we win.”
Skyline hosts Greeley West next on Friday at 7 p.m. Longmont’s schedule is in flux, as Friday’s game against Erie had to be postponed with the Tigers boys quarantined.