Through the first eight games, the Moffat County boys basketball team went the way of its leading scorer.
Senior Derek Duran, who leads the team with 19.1 points a game, averaged 21.8 points in four wins and 16.5 points in four losses during the team's pre-winter break games.
"I don't think winning and losing is that related to Derek's scoring," coach Scott Parker said. "I bet in our losses all of our numbers are down. It's more related to our defensive breakdowns."
The Bulldogs' stats related to points allowed per game have a fluctuation similar to Duran's. In four wins, the Bulldogs have held opponents to 55.75 points, compared to allowing an average of 66.75 a game in four losses.
"We said at the beginning of the season that if we 'D' it up we'll win the league," Duran said. "That shows in our games before the league."
With that in mind, the Bulldogs have worked primarily on their defense since returning to practice Monday.
"We've worked a lot on our press and rebounding," Parker said. "It's common knowledge that transition points from turnovers make for easy baskets."
Duran said transition baskets tend to be where he gets his points.
"My better games have been when we were getting up and down the court," he said. "When we get in the open court, we find the looks that are open."
Duran said that the team has been working on two looks for defense: a smaller, quicker lineup that comes at the team with a full-court press and a larger, more physical lineup to keep opponents off the boards.
"We almost have two different lines like in hockey," he said. "We bring the quick guys out to press for a couple of minutes, then we bring in the big guys to wear teams out."
Moffat will add former starter Jarrod Holmlund to the mix for league play. The senior suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, in the final game of last season.
The Boys in Blue's 4-4 record has the Bulldogs in the middle of the Western Slope League pack. Battle Mountain, the pre-season favorite to win the league, leads the league with a 6-1 record. Delta is second with a 4-1 record.
But pre-league records can be deceiving. The Huskies have played only one game against a Class 4A school, a 77-45 loss to No. 1-ranked D'Evelyn. And the rest of their games have been against Class 3A or lower classified schools. Delta's four wins all are against smaller schools.
The Bulldogs and Steamboat Springs, 4-3, have played a total of one game against a smaller school, Moffat's one-point loss to Basalt.
"What's important for us is that we take from what we learned before break," Parker said. "We have three games in five days to start the season so it's important for us to take tournament experience that we had with three games in three days and use it."
The Bulldogs are on the road against Palisade on Friday, Delta on Saturday and Steamboat Springs on Tuesday.