Craig Just a matter of time.
That's how long Moffat County boys basketball coach Steve Maneotis said it would take for his team to earn its first victory of the season. His words came after MCHS lost Friday in overtime to Hinkley High School in the Alamosa tournament.
The defeat was the seventh in a row to open the season for Moffat County. Still, Maneotis knew the taste of victory the Bulldogs had been craving was on the horizon.
Moffat County didn't have to wait long.
The Bulldogs feasted on Peak To Peak High School on Saturday, cruising to a 57-36 tournament-ending victory.
"Everybody on the team played well," Maneotis said. "The first win is always a big win. It's nice to get a taste of victory."
The Bulldogs (1-7 overall, 0-0 Western Slope League) finished the three-day event in Alamosa 1-2, but achieving the season's first win was a big step toward what Maneotis believes should be many wins in the future.
"We finally got the monkey off of our backs," he said. "The guys handled it like they'd been there before. They acted very professionally. There should be more of this down the road."
Moffat County led Peak To Peak, 27-23, at halftime, and then turned on the defensive pressure in the second half. The Bulldogs held the Pumas to five third-quarter points and nine fourth-quarter points to pull away and win by 21.
"We played really strong on the defensive side of the ball," Maneotis said. "We mixed it up between full-court pressure and a strong half-court presence. We held a team that had scored 62 points in their previous game to 37 against us. It's hard not to win when that happens."
Turnovers had plagued the Bulldogs in its previous seven losses; the team was averaging nearly 30 per game. Against the Pumas, Moffat County had just 16.
"That is the big reason why we won this game," Maneotis said. "Now we know what it takes to be successful."
Senior Chayton Owens led the Bulldogs throughout the tournament, tallying 67 total points, with a tournament-high 24 against Peak To Peak.
The junior averaged more than 22 points per game, earning him a spot on the all-tournament team.
"Owens played very well," Maneotis said. "Eli (Buckner) is evolving into a great leader, and Mike (Peters) did a great job getting us set up into our offense. (Colton) Conrad came off the bench to haul in a ton of boards, too. It was a great job all around by the whole team."
Moffat County will have a break until Jan. 2. : The Bulldogs host defending Western Slope League champion and archrival Steamboat Springs on Jan. 8 in the season's home opener. : Coaches are not permitted to contact players until Jan. 2. : The Moffat County gymnasium will be open to players who wish to work on their skills beginning Wednesday. "Hopefully the guys will do what they know they need to do to stay sharp," Maneotis said. "Steamboat is the defending champs. It will be a great game for us to have the chance to set the bar."
John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org