Posted On: 01/10/18 3:22 AM
Tuesday night’s Northern Conference game between host Longmont and visiting Niwot may have been a one-sided affair, but its outcome had farther-reaching implications.
Once the final buzzer sounded on the Longmont Trojans’ 68-28 victory over the Cougars, it was time to celebrate Jeff Kloster’s 400th career victory as the head boys basketball coach of the Longmont Trojans. Not only that, but the Trojans’ emphatic defensive effort sent a message to the rest of the state that they intend to be every bit the late-season players they usually are despite what many figured would be a down year in Longmont.
Here are five things that stood out in the game.
One of Colorado’s greatest reaches another milestone
Longmont head coach Jeff Kloster, who played high school basketball at Longmont and also served as an assistant coach under current University of Colorado head coach Tad Boyle at Longmont High, picked up his 400th career win on Tuesday night. In his 24th season as the Trojans’ head coach, Kloster currently has a 400-157 career record, has won eight conference championships, has made six Final Four appearances and has reached the state championship game twice. His 400 career wins are the eighth most all-time in Colorado preps history for a single coach with the same team.
Not the best night for Niwot
It’s true, the Niwot Cougars have lost 10 straight games since defeating Frederick in their season opener. But even after Tuesday night’s defeat, during which the Trojans held them to just eight points in the first half while playing inspired basketball to earn their coach a postgame party, the Cougars still believe they will eventually snap out of their current malaise and regain their footing. This is a team that won 10 games last season and returned several of its most promising young players, so don’t expect the Cougars to go winless much longer.
Longmont’s Luke Johnson remains uncommitted
He may be a bit undersized, but Longmont’s Luke Johnson has plenty to offer a collegiate basketball program. Currently, the unsigned senior is in contact with Augustana College, Carleton College and the University of Mary, but intends to wait until the end of the season to make a decision. A tricky lefty with a varietal skill set, Johnson (18.5 ppg) has incredible court vision, as well as the ability to shoot from 3-point distance and finish at the rim in traffic. He also has quick hands at the defensive end, averaging 2.4 steals per game, and seems to exude a calmness on the court that his teammates feed off of.
Record aside, Niwot has some pieces to watch
At least offensively, it’s difficult to shine against a team like Longmont that has allowed just 40.7 points to its first seven opponents in 2017-18. With that in mind, there are a couple players on the Niwot roster to keep an eye on. Six-foot-7 senior Cameron Carlson (9.7 ppg) and junior Thomas Bounds (9.6) are both raw players but have significant potential for growth left in their profiles. Bounds, in particular, had a strong game against Longmont and the statistics would back that up had a few more shots received friendlier bounces.
The Trojans might just be the real deal in 2017-18
When Longmont opened the season ranked No. 9 in Class 4A by the CHSAANow.com preseason poll, it raised some eyebrows given the ridiculous exodus of top-level talent from the program over the past several seasons. All the Trojans have done since then is move up three spots to No. 6. Their only loss so far this winter came via an overtime buzzer-beater against then-No. 1 Golden on Dec. 7. Defensively, the Trojans appear to be one of the toughest teams in the state. Offensively, their ball movement around leaders Luke Johnson, Brady Renck and Calvin Seamons is fundamental and consistent. That combination should continue to allow them to stay eye-level with any team in the Northern League.