A tough loss: Longmont nips Fruita in finals seconds of first game of Warrior Challenge
The Longmont High School boys basketball team had the lead when it counted most.
Thursday in the first game of the Warrior Challenge at Central High School, the Trojans trailed the entire second half against Fruita Monument until two Cade Kloster free throws gave them a two-point lead with five seconds left.
Fruita Monument’s final shot attempt fell short, and Longmont escaped with the 46-44 win.
“They had the lead at the right time, when the buzzer sounded,” Fruita Monument coach Dave Fox said. “You hate to lose games when it’s down to the wire and you have the lead.”
After tying the score at 44-44 with 30 seconds left, the Trojans (1-0) forced a turnover and set up for the final shot.
The Trojans got the ball to Kloster, who was fouled by Zach Thorpe with five seconds remaining. Kloster made both free throws to put the Trojans ahead 46-44.
Kloster helped keep the Trojans in striking distance in the fourth quarter by getting to the free-throw line. Kloster finished 8 of 9 from the free-throw line, and had 22 points.
“(Cade) is an 80 percent free-throw shooter so we wanted the ball to go to him in the crucial situations,” Longmont coach Jeff Kloster said. “He did a good job of connecting.”
Fruita (0-1) had chances to put the game away in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats led 44-40 with 1:40 remaining after Thorpe’s three-point play.
“We let it slip away,” Fox said. “There was some hesitancy, but we have to make shots.”
The Wildcats played their worst basketball in the final minute of the game and had two turnovers, including with 30 seconds left when Longmont tied the game at 44-44 off a Josh Cogdill steal.
“Down the stretch, I thought our kids showed a lot of grit,” Jeff Kloster said. “At times (Fruita) panicked because of our pressure and we were able to hit our free throws.”
In the matchup of the defending Southwestern League champs and a Class 4A Final Four team, Fruita got off to the quicker start.
The Wildcats made their first shot of the season, a Tyler Kenagy 3-pointer. Longmont went on a run to end the quarter, with Kloster giving the Trojans a 12-10 lead with two free throws.
In the second quarter, Fruita first-year starter James Lewis began to find a rhythm.
Lewis and Padgett joined returning starters Tyler Daniels, Drew Bridges and Kenagy in Fruita Monument’s starting lineup.
“The second quarter we came together,” Lewis said. “I was excited to get out there and play.”
Bridges got rolling in the third quarter, scoring 10 of his team-high 20 points. The 6-foot-4 Bridges showed his ability to run the floor, scoring three fast-break baskets in the quarter.
“We really looked good in the full-court running game but we didn’t do it enough,” Fox said. “We want to run a lot more and we have kids who can do it.”
Thorpe added nine points off the bench, and Lewis finished with eight.
The Wildcats play at 8:30 tonight against Carbon County, Utah.
“The best test is we get to play again pretty fast so we can’t sit around and pout,” Fox said. “We have to play better (Friday) night.”