Practice started rough this week for the Moffat County High School boys basketball team, coach Scott Parker said.
"But we had a good practice Tuesday night," he said.
The team hopes to turn good practice into good play, when the Bulldogs (0-0 league, 1-4 overall) travel to Alamosa Friday for the Community Banks of Colorado Cool Sunshine Classic basketball tournament. They meet the Hinkley High School Thunderbirds at 7 p.m.
Parker said the Thunderbirds play a similar style to Grand Junction Central, the lone team the Bulldogs have beaten so far.
"They press and they run up and down the floor," Parker said.
Parker is pleased the team has the opportunity to play this weekend, because so many other teams are on vacation already.
The Bulldogs are on a three-game losing streak, and Parker would like to see a turnaround this weekend.
"I think with (Andrew) Magas getting hurt right before we left for Wyoming, it put a wrench in our game," Parker said. "Now we've had a week to get things worked out."
The Bulldogs are without Magas until after Christmas, but the team has seen other players step up in his abscence.
One such player is senior Kaleb McKey. He has improved his game, preparing for his final year.
"Kaleb has made great progress from last year to this year," Parker said.
McKey is a 6-foot-8 center who gives the Bulldogs added height on the floor, which many teams in the Western Slope don't have.
McKey didn't play basketball his freshman or sophomore year, and said he got his game going after a two-year hiatus by attending open gyms and "getting his feel for the ball back."
Along with consistent play from junior Eli Buckner, Parker said the team is getting better and its starting to come together.
"Eli always has a good all-around game," Parker said. "And I think if we put 32 minutes together, we're a pretty good team. We just have to strive for that consistency."
Buckner said that he tries to lead by example.
"I feel that if I score under 10 points, I let the team down," Buckner said.
That wasn't the case for Moffat County at the Flaming Gorge Classic.
Parker attributed the team's loss in Wyoming to bad transition defense, but said that he's seen improvements in the last two days of practice.
Those improvements are yet to be seen in a game situation, but Parker is confident that the Bulldogs will go into tonight's game with a renewed sense of purpose.
"We're looking forward to it," Parker said.
And the Bulldogs have a 1-4 record could be a gift in disguise.
"Maybe some of the teams are overlooking Moffat County," Parker said.
McKey said that he didn't know a lot about the teams in the tournament, but what he did know is his squad will have to play like an undefeated team.
"Our goal is to be better prepared for the league," McKey said.
A win for the Bulldogs tonight would pit them against Centauri High School, while a loss would create a match-up against Alamosa High School. Both teams, Parker said, are "perennial powerhouses" in Colorado Basketball.
All games for the Community Banks of Colorado Cool Sunshine Classic will be played on the Adams State College campus at Plachy Hall.