DENVER — Longmont boys basketball coach Jeff Kloster was in a hurry.
Steamboat Springs and D’Evelyn were about a minute from tipoff in their Class 4A state tournament game on Friday night at Metro State College, and Kloster needed to find a seat.
“Let’s make it quick,” he told reporters. “I’ve got to go scout this game.”
Kloster was in no mood to celebrate, but he was thrilled to still be on the clock.
Kloster’s Trojans upset Centaurus, 54-51, in overtime, on Friday night at Metro State in third round of the state tournament, earning a spot in today’s state quarterfinal round. They will play D’Evelyn, a 49-38 winner over Steamboat Springs, at 8 p.m. today at Metro State.
“That’s why you play all summer, all season,” Kloster said. “You look for that situation where you can get to the Elite Eight. Now, we have to get another win (tonight).”
Travess Armenta sank a pair of free throws with 12.6 seconds to play in overtime, and the Trojan defense denied Centaurus a good look at a potential game tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
Jefferson Jackson had 23 points and eight rebounds to lead Longmont (19-6), and the Trojans slowed down a Centaurus team that had won 20 of its last 21 games coming in. The Warriors (21-4) fast break teams into submission, but never got the chance against the Trojans.
“That was definitely our goal, to play our tempo,” said Armenta, who had 13 points and five rebounds. “We knew if we wanted to win, we had to play our half-court defense and half-court offense.”
While the Trojans slowed Centaurus, they still had to battle for all 36 minutes to get the win.
Jake McDonald hit one of two free throws with 22.5 seconds remaining in overtime to pull Centaurus within 52-51. Armenta then dribbled his way through the Centaurus defense, milking the clock until he was fouled with 12.6 seconds left.
Armenta blew a chance to pad a one-point Longmont lead with 18.8 seconds to go in the fourth quarter when he missed the front end of a one-and-one situation, but made up for it in overtime.
“That was definitely the most pressure I’ve felt on the free throw line,” he said. “I had a second chance and I knew I had to come through.”
With one last chance to tie, Centaurus got the ball in the hands of the right guy — Brendan Puckett — but it wasn’t the play the Warriors wanted. Puckett’s off-balance shot hit iron, and Longmont’s Shane Rhodes corralled the rebound to secure the win.
“We had a play for Puckett,” McDonald said. “But, not that shot.”
Longmont spent the night preventing Centaurus from doing what it wanted. On Dec. 10, Longmont handed the Warriors a 75-55 loss in the Boulder Valley Invitational, and while this one wasn’t as dominating, it was equally as frustrating for the Warriors.
Centaurus didn’t score its first points of the game until 46 seconds to play in the first quarter. The Warriors didn’t hit the 20-point mark until 50 seconds before the half. And the 3-point shot which they relied on so much this season? It wasn’t there. The Warriors made just 4-of-22 shots from beyond the arc.
“It was rare for us,” McDonald said. “We had never been put in that type of situation where we couldn’t get our offense going.”
How beautiful that must sound to Longmont.
“We just played good defense,” Jackson said. “We’ve been preparing for it all week. Our defense definitely won us the game.”
Jackson’s big night off the bench didn’t hurt either. Jackson scored 12 points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer that gave the Trojans their biggest lead of the game, 20-13. He capped his night with four points in overtime, including the layup that put Longmont ahead 52-50 with 1:12 to go.
“That’s my role, to come off the bench and give the team energy,” he said.
Jackson isn’t the only Trojan with a great understanding of his individual role. On Friday, seven of eight Trojans who saw the court scored. Even more impressive, seven of the eight had at least one assist, and all eight grabbed at least one rebound.
The Trojans even teamed up to stop Centaurus’ Devon Beitzel and Puckett, two of the best offensive players in Class 4A. Together they had just 27 points, and made just 10 of 28 shots.
“Shutting down them is shutting down Centaurus,” Armenta said.
It was a devastating defeat for Centaurus, which nearly matched the school record for wins (the 1978 team went 22-4) and won 17 straight at one point this year.
“It was a great basketball game,” Warriors coach Michael Leahy said. “I just wish we’d been the one that had the most points at the end. I don’t have any regrets, other than I feel sorry for the seniors.”
LONGMONT 54, CENTAURUS 51, OT
Dominic Aiello 1-8 0-0 2, Paul Patterson 0-0 0-0 0, Jefferson Jackson 9-12 4-6 23, Dominic Capaldi 1-4 0-0 3, Travess Armenta 5-8 2-3 13, Austin Winger 3-7 0-0 6, Nathan Henry 2-11 1-2 5, Shane Rhodes 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 22-52 7-11 54.
Jake McDonald 4-11 1-2 11, Jonathan Oliver 1-1 0-0 2, Eric Graveland 0-0 0-0 0, Devon Beitzel 6-16 5-6 17, Brendan Puckett 4-12 0-1 10, Kyle Logan 0-0 0-0 0, Dillon Sanders 5-12 1-1 11, Robbie Terwilliger 0-0 0-0 0, Danny Garbe 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 20-52 7-12 51.
3-Point goals — Longmont 3-15 (Jackson 1-3, Capaldi 1-3, Armenta 1-4, Henry 0-3, Aiello 0-1, Winger 0-1), Centaurus 4-22 (Puckett 2-7, McDonald 2-8, Beitzel 0-5, Sanders 0-2). Fouled Out — None. Total Fouls — Longmont 12, Centaurus 17 Technical Fouls — None. Rebounds — Longmont 35 (Jackson 8, Henry 8, Rhodes 5), Centaurus 30 (McDonald 10, Puckett 8). Assists — Longmont 14 (Armenta 3, Rhodes 3), Centaurus 10 (Beitzel 7). Steals — Longmont 8 (Jackson 3), Centaurus 8 (Beitzel 4, McDonald 2). Turnovers — Longmont 16, Centaurus 15. Blocks — Longmont 0, Centaurus 1 (Puckett)