Injury, bad first quarter bury Bulldogs

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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS -- If the Moffat County boys basketball team had any advantage going into Friday's first-round of the state playoffs, the Bulldogs thought it was in the post. Thirty-five seconds into the contest against Broomfield, 50 percent of the Bulldogs' advantage went down with a knee injury.

"It's hard to put in words how that affected us," Moffat coach Mike LeWarne said. "I'd like to say it's a different game with Jarrod in there."

Junior post player Jarrod Holmlund grabbed a lob pass on the Bulldogs' first offensive possession and came down on an Eagle defender. He was assisted off the court and never returned. Initial diagnosis after the game, was that Holmlund ruptured his ACL.

The Eagles then dismantled the Bulldogs' zone on offense and forced 10 turnovers on defense to jump out to a 21-3 lead in the first quarter. They kept that distance most of the game for a 63-41 win.

"We had good intensity early," Broomfield coach Kevin Boley said. "I'm sure when they lost the big kid it hurt them."

The Bulldogs already were without senior post player Hugo Quezada. He was serving a mandatory one-game suspension for being ejected from Moffat's last game of the regular season. That left junior Kevin Loughran as the only Moffat player in the lineup who played post.

"We had a five-guard offense out there at times," Loughran said. "We weren't very patient or smart in the first quarter."

The Bulldog bench provided a bit of an offensive spark in the second quarter. Junior Cass Thompson scored eight points, and the Bulldog bench outscored the starters, 11-5, in the quarter.

"Those guys had confidence from a solid JV season and came out wanting to make a difference," LeWarne said. "It shows how much depth we'll have next year."

The 12th-seeded Bulldogs outscored the fifth-seeded Eagles, 16-14, during the second quarter but a 35-19 deficit must have looked large going into halftime.

At the beginning of the second half, Loughran showed the advantage that the Bulldogs thought they had on the inside. He scored six unanswered points to bring his team within 11, 35-24.

"It took us a while to adjust to the way they were defending on the post," LeWarne said. "They were bringing help from the wing when we're used to help coming from the post."

Loughran picked up his fourth foul with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter. That's when Moffat showed off its revolutionary five-guard offense the remainder of the game.

"We had guys playing post who haven't much, if any," LeWarne said. "Zach (Haddan) was the only guy who has played much post in the past and he didn't play it this year."

The Eagles were the quicker team for most of the game, and their speed made up for poor shooting. Broomfield shot 21 of 54, or 38 percent.

Their defensive pressure forced Moffat to shoot 16 for 47, or 34 percent.

"We missed too many open shots," Boley said. "But we were aggressive on the boards and earned second chances."

The Eagles had several possessions where they had two or three offensive rebounds. They outscored the Bulldogs in the paint, 30-18.

Eagles' post player Ben Hubbard had the game high of 12 points. Boley said it was probably a career high. The Eagles had 11 players score.

The defending state champions move on to play D'Evelyn at 6 p.m. today.

"D'Evelyn is a nasty team," Boley said. "We need to shoot well and continue to be aggressive to have a chance."

Moffat was led by Loughran, who had nine points.

All but two of the Bulldogs, Quezada and Brady Virden, will be back next year.

If the off-season is taken seriously, five returning starters and three seniors off the bench could be a hard team to stop next year.

"(The off-season) starts tomorrow," Loughran said. "We need to get bigger, stronger, faster and become better shooters."

LeWarne said he talked to his team about necessary improvements to do what they want next year.

"Our last two games we felt like we were the slower team," he said.

"For us to get faster, we need to be stronger, as well."

Moffat finished the season with a 9-13 record.

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