When the temperature dips down below 40 degrees, it means one thing for eighth graders Evan Hertzog and Andrew Magas basketball season.
"Once it started to get cold, I knew it was time to start shooting," Hertzog said.
"I was looking forward to this even during football," Magas said.
The Craig Middle School boys basketball season started last weekend with games against Hayden. The eighth-grade A-team won, 32-17, and the seventh-grade A-team also earned a 26-13 victory.
The eighth-grade team is coming off an undefeated season and team members believe they have the same opportunity this year.
"We have the same competition and a lot of us have improved," Hertzog said. "So I don't see why we shouldn't continue to win."
Brett Sperl and Burk Wynkoop coach the team. Sperl said his team has "good height, quickness and teamwork, in that order.
"We need to work on getting teamwork up to No. 1 on the list," he said. "In our first game, we played so quickly that we lacked poise and fouled too much."
Hertzog, who led the team with 12 points in the first game, and Magas, who added 6 points, agreed that their lineup, consisting of five players over 5'10," was their biggest strength.
"Even if we're playing poorly, we always out-rebound our opponents and get points from that," Hertzog said.
There are 26 eighth graders out, which according to Sperl, is more than the turnout most of the teams in the area have had. This makes it hard for the coaches to get team members a lot of playing time. Therefore, the Bulldogs will have inner-squad scrimmages on Nov. 7, 14 and 21. Sperl encouraged fans to come to those just like any other game.
"It's an opportunity for everybody to play and the public is invited to come and watch," he said.
For the seventh-grade team, organized basketball is somewhat of a new experience.
"There are a lot of kids out here that haven't played and are just learning," said head coach Bryce Eardley. "So we spend a lot of the time just working on the fundamentals."
The seventh-grade teams have enjoyed success in the past, winning districts consisting of Rangely, Meeker and Steamboat Springs the last two years.
Eardley said this year's team is a good defensive team with plenty of rebounding ability.
Scouting out the competition, Eardley said he thought Steamboat would be the team's biggest test because of the number of student athletes they have out.
"We talked to them and they have 41 kids on the team," he said. "There's going to be some talent somewhere in those numbers."
The Bulldogs travel to Steamboat Saturday for their second games of the season. They begin with the seventh-grade B-team at 9 a.m. and will finish with the eighth-grade A-team around noon. The games have been moved to the Strawberry Park Middle School because of the girls high school 4A Regional Volleyball tournament.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.