Tip ... bounce : bounce : swish.
Those were the first four sounds of the Moffat County High School basketball season as senior Pablo Loya took the opening tip, dribbled twice and drained a three pointer.
"That shot helped break the ice for me a little bit," first-year head coach Mike LeWarne said. "I was pretty nervous before the game, but we hope that is a sign of good things to come."
The quick three-pointer was a sign of good things, at least for the opening weekend. The Bulldogs tipped off the season with a 65-54 win over Montrose Friday night and followed it up with a 65-62 victory over Basalt Saturday.
Friday night was Loya's night.
He was 7 for16 from beyond the three-point arch and scored 27 for the blue and white. With Loya's hot start, the Bulldogs were able to establish an eight- to 10-point advantage in the first quarter and kept that lead most of the game against Montrose.
"I'm happy for Pablo that he was able to have such a big first game," LeWarne said. "If anyone deserved it, he did because he worked so hard in the off-season."
As expected, the Bulldogs were out-sized by the Indians as the visiting team had three starters taller than any MCHS starter but Montrose wasn't able to use it to its advantage.
"Montrose never really got the inside game established," LeWarne said. "Our perimeter guys did a good job of forcing jump shots."
Senior Joe Padon feasted off of the missed jump shots and grabbed 16 rebounds in the game.
In the first half, junior Kyle Eitel took advantage of the Indians' missed shots and slower, taller athletes by running the court after misses and he scored 10 points before intermission.
"Those two guys (Padon and Eitel) were the unsung MVPs for us," LeWarne said. "If we're going to be successful, that's the way it is going to work for us with different players doing the small stuff to keep us in games."
Other high scorers for the Bulldogs were junior Anthony Loughran with 17 points and senior Brian Skowronski, who had eight points.
On the bus ride to Basalt, LeWarne passed out a scouting report of the Longhorns and his players saw something they didn't expect to see much, if at all, this season.
"They were joking about how Basalt might actually be smaller than us," LeWarne said. "I told them that, for once, we were going to have the advantage inside."
The Bulldogs responded by feeding the ball inside to Loughran, who scored 23 in the game. He also contributed on the defensive end.
"Anthony drew five charges this weekend, with three in the Montrose game and two in Basalt," LeWarne said.
"He was a little banged up from it, but he did what he had to for us."
While the Longhorns weren't very tall, LeWarne said they were quick and had four players that could take the ball to the basket off the dribble. The Bulldogs had a hard time stopping them in man-to-man defense and it kept the game close.
With 40 seconds remaining, Loughran was fouled and hit two free throws to give the Bulldogs a five-point lead. The Longhorns scored to bring it within three. After Skowronski missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw, the Longhorns launched a final shot for the tie that just missed.
"It wasn't pretty in the end, but every 'W' in December is the same size," LeWarne said. "It was exciting to get off to a good start."
Other leading scorers for the Bulldogs were Padon with 11 and freshman Kevin Loughran with eight. MCHS swept all three games in Basalt and the boys program was 6-1 through the opening weekend.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or email@example.com.