A charitable affair: Longmont boys hoops beats Centaurus at the line

Jan. 25—LAFAYETTE — When Longmont and Centaurus boys basketball took to the hardwood on Thursday night, they didn't realize their game play would emulate the impending forecast.

While it remains to be seen whether flakes will fall on Friday, offense for both teams took on the personality of Jack Frost himself. The Trojans, however, managed to break through the ice when it mattered most en route to a 42-36 victory.

In the end, free throws separated the Trojans from the Warriors, especially after the desperation fouls came into play late in the fourth quarter. Longmont wasn't perfect from the line down the stretch, but every foul shot they did make just hammered another nail in the coffin.

As it turned out, they didn't want to add more cardio to their workout regimen.

"We practice so many free throws in practice," senior guard Levi Scheck said. "We always have some type of running punishment if we miss, so everybody's always trying to make as many as they can. We just know it's important to knock them down, because when it comes to that moment, we're going to be ready.

"Especially in the summer, I remember, we had a team camp where we shot something like 30%. Obviously, that killed us. We lost so many games just off of free throws, and it's gone up and up and up. I don't know what we were today, but we were at a pretty solid percentage."

By game's end, the Warriors and Trojans had netted a total of 28 free throws and missed a good deal more. This year's new free throw shooting rules, where teams hit the bonus by the fifth foul in every quarter, seems to be throwing quite the curveball into offenses.

"I think it really slows (the game) down and free throws are being shot a lot more," Centaurus junior shooting guard Sam Esposito said. "There's a lot more chances to make or miss. It's definitely been harder on our team, personally, for making them because we're not used to shooting this many. It's been a real struggle for us to knock them down. We've been working on it, but we got to work harder."

Scheck himself led that charge from the line, as he finished his night with a team-high 11 points, all but four of which came by way of free throws. Sophomore shooting guard Joey Foot added another 10 points for Longmont.

On the other side of the ball, Esposito led his squad with 11 points, as junior Antuan Vargas contributed another seven. Most of Esposito's heroics came from beyond the arc.

Both teams came out shooting ice-cold, and only managed to tie it at 18-18 by halftime. That chill continued to disrupt the players well into the second half, but the foul line left the Warriors the most frostbitten.

During a stretch when only a point or two separated the two teams at any given moment, Centaurus missed five straight free throws that could have allowed them to take a stranglehold on the outcome of the game.

Each miss saw those chances slowly fall away. Longmont responded with ice in its veins to secure victory, especially in a much-hotter fourth quarter.

"That was really everything," Scheck said, "because they could have built a little bit of momentum and instead, we stayed pretty even, and then we were able to knock them down at the end and really just put them away."

The Trojans improved to 10-6 (3-4 in Northern Colorado Athletics Conference) and will head back home to take on Mead on Saturday, while Centaurus (5-11, 1-6) will host Greeley West on the same day.