If there wasn't a mercy rule in middle school basketball before, the Craig Middle School seventh-grade boys team may have set the grounds to consider one in the future.
The seventh-grade A team's closest game was a 24-point victory against Hayden. The Bulldogs closed out the season with a 64-4 win.
"Their toughest competition was themselves in practice," coach Norm Yoast said. "We could find items to focus on every game, and they did it."
Yoast attributed his team's ability to previous basketball experience, strength and athleticism.
"It was a strong group who has played a lot of AAU and Gold Crown basketball," he said. "It's a good, athletic group."
The A team finished 9-0 and the B team was 7-1, losing 13-11 to Rangely in the season finale.
The seventh-graders will play in a Gold Crown tournament in Denver on Saturday and Sunday and Dec. 10 and 11.
"They need to keep playing in tournaments like that to get better," said Yoast, who will coach them again next year. "The way they'll see more competition is traveling."
The seventh-grade team plays two games Saturday in Denver. The first game is at 1:15 p.m. against Columbine, and the second is against Douglas County White at 3:15 p.m. On Sunday, they will face Longmont White.
The eighth-graders didn't play any AAU basketball last year. The results this year could make the argument for the importance for finding games outside of the middle school season.
The Bulldogs finished 7-1 last year in seventh grade, but finished 2-7 this year.
"They improved as the season went on," coach Todd Hildebrandt said. "But not playing in AAU last year showed."
The Bulldogs won two of their past four games. Their best game was a win against Hayden, 36-33, Hildebrandt said. It came after the Tigers beat them in the season's first meeting.
"They played with energy that game," Hildebrandt said. "They never gave up in that game."
The A team lost by nine points to Rangely in the last game of the season. The team led after the first half against a team that beat it by 20 points earlier in the season.
Hildebrandt said he saw at least two positives for the eighth-grade group as it goes into high school.
"They're going to play some AAU in the off-season this year," he said. "I really thought they came around toward the end of the season."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org