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Boys basketball: Silver Creek punches back to defeat Holy Family in top-10 thriller

Jan. 8—LONGMONT — Fast and physical has been the name of the game over the past few seasons of Northern Colorado Athletic Conference boys basketball. Monday night at Silver Creek High School was no different.

Through four high-intensity quarters, 5A's fourth-ranked Silver Creek and 4A's fifth-ranked Holy Family battled toe-to-toe before the Raptors pulled out a 56-49 victory. No lead was ever safe.

"I think, as a team, we're really underrated," Silver Creek senior power forward Ashoka Surkhang said. "I think we came out with a chip on our shoulder very early, and we did have to battle through their good run. They're a good team. I mean, they're a state championship team, so we knew they were going to come out strong."

Both teams put up strong defensive pressure, and both saw ice in their veins and crackling around the rim at some point or another. Neither squad was afraid to put their bodies on the line.

Surkhang rose to the occasion — and from every area of the floor — as he haunted the Tigers all night with 22 points, including four 3-pointers. Toward the end of the game, he drained a triple from Steph Curry range, further illuminating why no one could guard him.

"He's pretty close to 40% from the 3-point range. We've got quite a few shooters on this team," Silver Creek head coach Bob Banning said. "We're going to have four to five guys in double (figures) by the end if we can. Spread it out a little bit."

The Raptors also enjoyed maximum offensive production from senior shooting guard Gabe Selby (13 points) and senior power forward Zander Storz (nine points) to help keep the Holy Family defense guessing. The Tigers, on the other hand, saw senior shooting guard Gabe Tafoya (18 points) and junior shooting guard Roman Elliott (14 points) take on the brunt of their offensive responsibility.

The Tigers spent much of the first half locking up their defense in and around the post, but Silver Creek consistently found ways to break through and tickle the nylon. At the other end of the floor, Holy Family struggled to make even the best of looks.

"Today is the first time that's happened," Tafoya said." Usually, we start off strong and end out slow. It's little adjustments we've got to make. We had to space out the floor, press the other team, and try to just get easy transition buckets."

The Raptors led 26-14 at the half, but the Tigers wouldn't let that stand. Holy Family sophomore point guard Caleb Schott woke from his offensive slumber right out of the gate, and provided the much-needed spark toward a 14-2 Holy Family run that tied things up at 28-28 with 3:38 left in the third quarter.

Silver Creek's 12-point advantage disappeared, never to be seen again, throughout the rest of the contest as both squads battled in the high-velocity, physical game. After the Tigers drew within two points, 42-40, with 4:30 left in the game, the Raptors tried to bury them.

Little did they know Holy Family had a shovel at its disposal.

Despite taking a 51-42 lead with 1:20 left on the clock, Tafoya, Matthew Napierkowski and Elliott combined to pull the Tigers within four, 53-49, in the final 30 seconds. Surkhang and Selby hammered the final three nails in the coffin from the foul line.

Silver Creek improved to 9-1 (1-0 in conference play) with the win, and Holy Family fell to 6-4 (0-1). The Raptors will look to keep the ball rolling on Wednesday at Centaurus as the Tigers hope to rebound at home against Greeley Central on Tuesday.

"Every night, you're going to be challenged," Holy Family head coach Pete Villecco said. "We got Greeley Central tomorrow, Centaurus Thursday. You're going to be challenged every night and if you don't bring it, you're going to get beat up."

That's just the nature of NCAC basketball. It may be time to put some respect in the Raptor name.

"I always feel like we're underrated," Surkhang said. "We're not talked about on Twitter much. I don't hear much about us. Some of the people who don't follow MaxPreps, they think that we just have an easy schedule and that we're just cruising through, but we're a tough team. If people hit us in the face, we hit back."