Hoopsters hit hardwood, again


Craig Mortensen and Blaine Corlett are bringing back memories of a tough winter.

The balmy days of summer have reached Craig, but over the course of the next few weeks there will be one place that won't feel like summer the Moffat County High School gym.


Amber Sanchez, left, attempts to pass the ball around Laurel Mortensen during practice Wednesday. Sanchez and Mortensen were two of the leading scorers for the Moffat County High School Lady Bulldogs last season.

The gym will take on an eerie "Christmas in July" feeling when both Moffat County boys and girls basketball teams start their summer season.

Both teams have spent the last week practicing, but the season won't officially start until 9 a.m. Friday with the first tournament of the season, which will be on home hardwood.

"This is a time for us to improve on our fundamentals, and find out what the kids need to work on for the season," Mortensen said. "Plus it gives us a chance to induct the incoming freshmen to our system."

The summer basketball season, which will runs through June, has an extremely large appeal in Craig. Though attendance is voluntary, each team is made up of 25 to 40 players, with underclassmen representing the majority.

Practices are held nightly in the high school gym, with each team working for two hours. The players then can look forward to a tournament each weekend through June.

Work on fundamentals is the primary concern of the season, but not the only focus.

The summer season is meant strengthen play on many levels, from bringing freshmen up to speed on the high school system, to grooming team leaders from the returning players.

"Summertime is where your leaders are found, it's where you find the kids who are willing to put in the extra work," Corlett said. "Like the saying goes 'Lead in the summer, lead in the season.'"

Friday and Saturday will mark the beginning of each squad's search for leaders when the teams enter their first tournament of the season.

The tournament, to be played at the Moffat County High School gym, looks to draw in freshmen, junior varsity and varsity teams from 13 different schools. The boys section of the tournament should have nine teams participating, while the girls only look to draw in four.

Most of the teams that have entered the boys section of the tournament are from Class 3A and 4A schools from across the Western Slope. The exception will be Class 5A Grand Junction High School.

Only two Colorado teams other than Moffat County will participate in the girls tournament Hayden and North Park.

A team from Rock Spring High School and Wasatch High School from Heben, Utah will also play.

Though the hoopsters are excited about the start of a new season, their coaches aren't expecting miracles after two month off.

"We'll look the same as all the other teams coming in lousy." Mortensen said. "We'll look lousy, but we should do all right in the games. It's what happens after a few months off."

Winning isn't everything in the summer season, but how well you can prepare for when the wins count is. The summer season has become an integral part of the high school's basketball programs, as it has in many schools.

"The summer season is very important. If you don't run one, you're one of the few," Corlett said. "Those who don't run a summer season fall behind."

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