Boys team overcomes Panther comeback

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Same score, different feel.

For the second consecutive night, the Moffat County boys basketball team won a game by the score of 52-50. Other than the score, there weren't many similarities in the games.

On Friday night, Moffat came back from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter against Palisade. On Saturday, the Bulldogs had an eight-point lead going into the fourth quarter and held off Delta in the final moments.

"We need to play with the same type of energy when we have a lead that we do when we trail," Moffat coach Scott Parker said. "What matters is that in the end, we were able to keep our winning streak alive."

Delta outscored Moffat 12-4 in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter to eliminates the Bulldogs' lead. Delta's Kyle Clanton hit two free throws with 1 minute 41 seconds remaining in the game to tie it at 47.

Bulldog senior Derek Duran hit a jumper for two of his 30 points to put his team back in the lead with 1:16 remaining. After a Delta turnover, Duran was fouled, and he hit both free throws with 22.1 seconds remaining.

The Panthers weren't done.

Jeremy Sanchez hit a leaning, guarded 3-pointer with 7.3 seconds remaining to make the score 51-50. Moffat junior Evan Hertzog was fouled immediately and went to the line for a one-and-one.

Hertzog missed the first shot but Moffat senior Kevin Loughran was fouled on the rebound. During the rebound, Loughran hit his head on the floor, and the fall blurred his vision.

Senior Derek Ellgen was substituted for Loughran to take the free throws.

Ellgen hit his first free throw to make it 52-50. The second one he missed and Delta rebounded. The Panthers' a half-court shot fell short.

The free throw was Ellgen's only point, but both the make and the miss on the second were two of the Bulldogs' most important shots of the night.

"I think (Ellgen) missed the second on purpose," Parker said. "It was a good miss, because Delta didn't have any timeouts, and they had to just run with it."

The Panthers struggled Fri--d--ay night in a 55-33 loss to Steamboat Springs. Coach Joe Mock was happier with Saturday's performance.

"We showed a lot of heart and a lot of character," he said. "We've played a lot of close games, and if we could put four quarters together, we'd be winning more of them."

Delta's leading scorers were junior Michael Bear with 13 and Clanton with eight.

The Bulldogs still are depending on two-thirds of its scoring from Duran.

Three Bulldogs scored in addition to Duran on Friday, and six other players scored Saturday. Both nights no player other than Duran had double digits.

"Our other starters and our guys off the bench are doing a good job playing within themselves," Parker said. "Ellgen was a perfect example of that tonight. He came off the bench to hit a key free throw."

Forty-five miles to the east, Palisade jumped out to a 17-2 point lead against Steamboat Springs and went on to win 63-51.

Palisade's win moved the two Bulldog teams into a tie for third place in the Western Slope League.

"Hopefully we have some momentum now," Parker said. "Three close league wins in a row have helped this team."

Moffat County improved to 5-4 in the Western Slope League and 9-8 overall.

They have all week to prepare for Steamboat Springs, 4-5, at home Friday. The Sailors won the first contest 68-55.

"We played well for a half the first time (against Palisade)," Parker said. "We're a better defensive team now, and hopefully it will make a difference."

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com.

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