MCHS basketball player Thomas Noble works on his outside shot Monday at practice, while Mike Peters, right, defends. The No. 9 seeded Bulldogs travel to Greeley today to face No. 8 seed Greeley Central, in the first round of the 4A boys basketball playoffs.

Photo by John Vandelinder

MCHS basketball player Thomas Noble works on his outside shot Monday at practice, while Mike Peters, right, defends. The No. 9 seeded Bulldogs travel to Greeley today to face No. 8 seed Greeley Central, in the first round of the 4A boys basketball playoffs.

Shooting for a deep run

MCHS boys basketball team begins playoffs today in Greeley

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Greeley Central at a glance:

Coach: Troy Graefe

Record: 13-10 overall, 8-6 Northern League, East Division

Streak: won three

Points per game: 51.6

Opposition ppg: 48.6

Leading scorer: Mike Elrick 10.3 ppg

Keys to victory:

• Post play. Graefe said the Wildcats are a smaller team that must box out well against the taller Bulldogs. Graefe said his team can't let themselves get pushed around down low.

• Turnovers. Graefe said Greeley Central is averaging nearly 16 turnovers per game. He said the Wildcats need to take care of the ball and limit turnovers.

• Defense. Graefe said his team needs to defend the perimeter and the post equally. If the Wildcats can dictate the tempo of the game defensively, Graefe said the team has a better chance to win.

Moffat County at a glance:

Coach: Steve Maneotis

Record: 9-13 overall, 8-6 Western Slope League

Streak: won two

Points per game: 56.8

Opposition ppg: 63.6

Leading scorer: Chayton Owens 17.5 ppg

Keys to victory:

• Defense. Maneotis said Moffat County has to play strong defense on the perimeter in an attempt to slow down Wildcats point guard - and leading scorer - Mike Elrick.

• Discipline. Maneotis said the team has to be patient in its offensive sets, working the ball to the open man, preferably down low where MCHS has a size advantage.

• Turnovers. Maneotis said limiting turnovers has been the focus in practice this week, last week and just about every other week this year. It's simple: If the Bulldogs win the turnover battle, Maneotis said they should win the game.

If you go

What: MCHS boys basketball at Greeley Central

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Greeley Central High School, 1515 Fourth Ave., Greeley

Call: 970-348-5000

The postseason is here for the Moffat County boys basketball team.

Winners of eight of their past 10 games, the Bulldogs were awarded the No. 9 seed Sunday, as part of the Bill Weimer Region.

Being in the ninth spot has its advantages and disadvantages, MCHS coach Steve Maneotis said.

"You get an evenly matched team in the eight seed for your first game," he said, "But, if you win, you get the one seed next, coming off a bye."

So, first thing for the Bulldogs, is to get to the first tournament victory today.

Moffat County travels to the home of the Greeley Central Wildcats, looking to start the playoffs with a bang.

It is the team's 16th road game in a schedule of 23 games.

"We love the road," Maneotis said. "It's not foreign to us to play on the road. It's second nature now."

The teams have not met this season, but they have played common opponents.

Greeley Central split a pair of games against Hinkley, losing 56-49 and winning, 53-50.

Moffat County lost to Hinkley, 78-73.

Greeley Central beat Peak To Peak High School, 39-38, while Moffat County blew out Peak To Peak, 56-37.

Against Alamosa, Central lost, 57-51, and the Bulldogs were bit, 80-44.

"We've played some of the same teams," Wildcats coach Troy Graefe said. "They are a different team than when we saw them in Alamosa. They look like they've bought into a system over there."

The Bulldogs are a bigger team on paper, and Maneotis said Moffat County will try to use that to their advantage.

"We've got to pound them inside," he said. "We are bigger, and we have to do what we do best."

Moffat County scored a season high 76 points in Friday's win at Eagle Valley, and are averaging nearly 57 points per game to the Wildcats' 51.

Graefe said slowing the Bulldogs defensively is the key.

"We are going to do any wholesale changes," he said. "But, certainly our focus will be on their big guy down low and make him take tough shots."

The "big guy" down low is senior Chayton Owens, who is averaging 17.5 points per game.

"When I took over this program, our whole philosophy hasn't just been to make it to the playoffs," Maneotis said. "We want to make it to the last game of the playoffs."

Maneotis said the home of Moffat County - the Western Slope League - is looked upon as the "red-headed stepchild" of the state's conferences, and that's something he aims to change.

"We are going to stick it to Greeley Central and show everyone that we are for real," he said.

John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com

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