Moffat County High School senior Kelton Willbanks goes up for a shot last season against visiting Battle Mountain. The Bulldogs kicked of their 2008-09 season with a 73-60 win against Cortez on Saturday.

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Moffat County High School senior Kelton Willbanks goes up for a shot last season against visiting Battle Mountain. The Bulldogs kicked of their 2008-09 season with a 73-60 win against Cortez on Saturday.

Starting strong

Varsity boys team wins season-opener

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It didn't come easy, but they got it.

The Moffat County High School varsity boys basketball team won its 2008-09 season-opener Saturday afternoon, 73-60, against Montezuma-Cortez.

The Bulldogs (1-0 overall, 0-0 Western Slope League) used a stingy fourth-quarter defense and a balanced offensive attack to defeat the Panthers (0-1 overall, 0-0 Southwestern League) in Palisade.

"We're pleased," MCHS coach Steve Maneotis said. "We had jitters, I'll tell you. We had some kids that were pretty nervous."

Trailing by six points at the half, Moffat County closed the gap by the end of the third - and turned it on in the fourth.

"We took over in the fourth quarter," Maneotis said. "We picked up the pace and ran the floor better. We just executed all around really well."

The Bulldogs applied a full-court press defense, limiting the Panthers to 11 points in the game's final 12 minutes, on their way to the 13-point victory.

"We extended the floor and put pressure on them the whole game," Maneotis said. "It rattled them, and it wore them out like I told them it would by the fourth quarter. Theirs guards were frazzled, and they had zero confidence bringing the ball up.

"Nobody wanted to bring the ball up (the floor) against us."

Senior post player Chayton Owens (23 points) led three Bulldogs in double figures.

Point guard Mike Peters worked his way to 17 points, while forward Collin Jackson finished with 16.

"Chayton had a very quiet 23," Maneotis said, "and Mike fouled out and didn't play the final three minutes."

Moffat County came out eager to begin the season, firing on all cylinders on their way to a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But, Cortez turned it up in the second.

The Panthers switched from a man-to-man defense to a zone, causing the Bulldogs problems.

"We didn't handle their zone press too well," Maneotis said. "We came undone."

Nothing a little halftime pep talk couldn't handle.

MCHS out-scored Cortez, 44-25, in the second half.

Notes

The game was played in Palisade because of its location between Craig and Cortez. : The Bulldogs lost last year's opener, 60-55, at Fruita. : Moffat County is 9-3 in its last 12 games dating back to the 2007-08 season.

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