CMS basketball teams on opposite paths

It wasn't on purpose, but it was fitting.

Thursday the Craig Middle School eighth-grade basketball team practiced while the seventh-graders were sitting in the parking lot waiting for a ride home.

The practice is good for the winless eighth-grade A- and B-teams.

"We haven't gelled," Eighth-grade coach Todd Hildebrandt said. "We've been hurt by ineligible students, sickness and injuries."

The seventh-grade teams haven't lost yet, but they didn't get a day off because of their play. The Craig Intermediate School was taken because of parent-teacher conferences.

The good news for the eighth-graders is that their best performance, their coach said, was against Steamboat Springs.

"We played with a lot of energy against Steamboat," he said. "We need to be a more fast-paced team and we weren't that against Hayden and Meeker."

The Bulldogs play Steamboat at 4 p.m. today on the road. At 9 a.m. Saturday, they host Rangely.

"We've been missing some easy, uncontested shots," Hildebrandt said. "If we can stay with the basics and stay focused, we might be all right."

Counting tonight, the teams have six more contests for a chance to win.

On the seventh-grade side, they have six more chances to go undefeated.

Coach Norm Yoast, who has been helping middle school basketball teams for 16 years, likens this team to some of the best.

"I haven't had the height like this since the group that is seniors now," he said. "I've been really pleased with where they were at coming into the season."

The seventh-grade class has earned a reputation for its athletic ability.

"They're good in football and basketball, and I hear they've got some good wrestlers, as well," Yoast said. "They're strong skillwise, but they have some bad habits to break."

Yoast said he wants his guys to slow down at times and to play more under control.

Going into tonight's game, he said he hopes to see an effort similar to the first game.

"Steamboat is probably our toughest competition," he said. "But I thought we handled (Steamboat) better than we handled Meeker."

There will be no district tournament at the end of the season this year, but basketball won't be over for the Bulldogs.

There are plans to compete in a Gold Crown tournament in Denver after the season is over.

"Every little extra bit helps," Yoast said. "It's good since we don't have the district tournament anymore."

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