There's no question that basketball is a team sport but the post game discussion after the Moffat County High School boys 63-55 victory over Steamboat Springs Friday night focused on two players--MCHS senior Brian Skowronski and SSHS sophomore Cameron Burney.
"Ski came out and had the game of his life tonight and we needed it," said Moffat County coach Mike LeWarne. "With (senior Joe) Padon and Anthony (Loughran, junior) in foul trouble early he really came out and hit the shots he needed to."
Loughran noted his teammate's play as well.
"Steamboat really focused on Pablo (Loya, senior) Joe and I and it opened it up for Ski," he said. "He had an unbelievable game."
While Skowronski, who scored a career high, 17 points, couldn't do anything wrong, Burney couldn't find anything right with his performance.
"I'm going to put most of the blame for our loss on me," he said. "The only time I really brought any effort was when we were down. I didn't show up in practice this week and I didn't show up in the game tonight."
Burney scored 11 points with six coming in the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs were up by 10 or more and the clock was running down.
"Cameron should be tough on himself," said Sailors coach Kelly Meek. "He didn't play very well fundamentally tonight."
Moffat County controlled the game for most of the night, out-scoring the Sailors the first three quarters. The Bulldogs kept their distance in the fourth quarter and with a 10 point lead throughout there was more competition between the dueling crowds than on the court.
"The opening of the third quarter really put us in a hole," Meek said. "They came out and executed and we didn't."
Loughran, who sat out the entire second quarter, was mainly responsible for the rally early in the third. He scored eight of his 11 points in the quarter and his three pointer with 37 seconds left stopped a Steamboat rally that had brought them within five.
"At halftime the guys told me we needed to get Anthony the ball," LeWarne said. "So I can't take credit for that. It shows how unselfish we're playing right now."
In addition to Loughran's three, a technical foul on Meek with three seconds left provided the Bulldogs with two free throws and 41-31 lead going into the final quarter.
"My player got pushed into the stands and I was going out to see how he was," Meek said. "I wasn't going after the referees, I just wanted to see how my player was doing."
Loya, who had 21 points on the night, said he thought the technical was the backbreaker for the Sailors.
"They had just missed a dunk and then the technical came right after that," he said. "We could feel the momentum swing our way at that point."
In a physical game that had 43 fouls called, both teams were in foul trouble throughout. LeWarne thought the key to the game was how well his team handled having Padon and Loughran on the bench.
"Kyle Eitel and Kelvin Grinolds came in and set some great picks to get the hot hands of Loya and Skowronski open in the second quarter," he said. "Being able to keep the lead in the second quarter with two of our best players on the bench won the game for us."
Meek said that ever since the Christmas break his team hadn't played as well as it could and that the trend continued on Friday night.
"They were better prepared and focused than us and they never let us get on a roll," he said. "I said coming in that Moffat County was the hot team in the league right now and they proved me right."
LeWarne wanted to make sure the crowd got some credit.
"The crowd was awesome tonight," he said. "At times it got in Steamboat's head and it pushed us throughout. It shows why we're undefeated at home."
The win improves Moffat County to 9-2, 4-0 in the Western Slope Conference and drops the state ranked Sailors to 9-2, 3-1 in the conference.
"Besides winning Districts, beating Steamboat is what I look forward to the most during the summer," Loughran said. "It's early in the season, but this win feels good."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org