If it weren't for a last-second three pointer from Vernal last year, the eighth-grade Craig Middle school girls basketball A-team would have completed two years of undefeated basketball this weekend with a win against Rangely in the district tournament.
But an 18-1 record over two years isn't too bad.
"They are a very well-rounded team," said coach Norm Yoast, who oversaw the team both years. "It's too bad we couldn't have scheduled Vernal this year to avenge the loss but it was a good middle school career."
The Bulldogs won all of their games this season and never trailed in the second half. Yoast said that the team's strength was its combination of speed and height.
"We were much faster than the other teams," he said. "Our fast break and rebounding were the reasons we're so dominating."
The team had six players who scored more than 40 points in the season -- a number Yoast said was impressive for a middle school program.
At the middle school level, a primary focus for the team is the fundamentals of basketball, which Yoast said they would focus on for the majority of practice.
"Our job as a coaching staff is to prepare them with the fundamentals," he said. "Then, when we watch them in high school we know that we had a part of their success because they first learned to be disciplined from us."
Yoast coached the current Moffat County High School seniors in his first years as girls head coach at CMS and has won five district championships in as many years of coaching. He said it's rewarding to see what the players he started with have made of themselves. Particularly this year as they went undefeated in the league and they go into the district tournament this weekend as the top seed.
He said he expects the same for this year's eighth graders.
"This group has a lot of smart girls who know how to kill the clock when they need to or when to attack the basket and they love the sport," he said. "They're already bugging me to get back in the gym and the season ended on Saturday."
The eighth graders will start AAU in a couple of weeks and Yoast will release them and start thinking about his next group of seventh graders with the hope that he can have as much fun as he had with his last team.
"They made practice something to look forward to everyday," he said. "If I was having a bad day, I would always feel better at practice because they were having so much fun. They made my coaching job easy."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.