The word around the Western Slope League is that teams aren't looking forward to playing the Moffat County boys next year. Coach Mike LeWarne can see why.
"The rest of the top teams in the league this year graduate 75 to 90 percent of their scoring," he said. "We return 95 percent of ours."
The junior-laden team took its bumps this year on the way to a 5-9 league record. Next year's senior-laden team looks to be the one dishing out the bumps.
"We'll be playing a lot of this year's JV teams next year," LeWarne said. "Our JV team had a lot of success against those guys."
The Bulldogs' nine WSL losses were by an average of 9.6 points. Take out the 13-point loss to Eagle Valley and the 16-point loss to Battle Mountain and the 'Dogs losses were by just more than eight points a game.
Junior point guard Derek Duran led the team in scoring with 11 points a game. He was voted to the WSL All-League team by the league coaches. Junior Kevin Loughran was the second leading scorer with 9.1 points a game. He was named to the honorable mention team.
Loughran and Duran were the only two players with any significant varsity experience at the beginning of the season. Next year all five starters (Zach Haddan, Chance Buckner and Jarrod Holmlund will join Duran and Loughran) return. Seniors-to-be Cass Thompson, Derek Ellgen and Justin Kawcak will bring varsity experience off the bench, along with junior-to-be Evan Hertzog.
LeWarne wanted to give credit to the team's effort during a tough season.
"We were in every game," he said. "They wanted to get better every day."
The 'Dogs will be without Holmlund during the summer. The team's third leading scorer will be rehabilitating his knee after surgery to repair a ruptured ACL suffered in the final game of the season.
The coaches hope that a combination of experience from this year and time in the summer will produce more consistency for the team next year.
"We rarely had more than one or two guys on in one night," LeWarne said. "We need to have more consistency where we always have at least two guys on."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.