The Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball team may have lost its starting five from last season to graduation, but the Bulldogs have several varsity players returning this year. Coach Steve Maneotis said a few underclassmen will see significant playing time this year. The team is, back row, from left, Dylan Camilletti, Dustin Carlson, Andy Browning, Adam Foster, Colby Haddan, Andrew Raftopoulos, Zach Raftopoulos and Mitch Sammons. Front row, from left, is Tyler Hildebrandt, Brady Martinez, Zack Ahlmer, Ryder Seely, Chris Goucher, Paul Laliberte, Zach Booco, Wyatt Oberwitte and Garrett Buckley.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

The Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball team may have lost its starting five from last season to graduation, but the Bulldogs have several varsity players returning this year. Coach Steve Maneotis said a few underclassmen will see significant playing time this year. The team is, back row, from left, Dylan Camilletti, Dustin Carlson, Andy Browning, Adam Foster, Colby Haddan, Andrew Raftopoulos, Zach Raftopoulos and Mitch Sammons. Front row, from left, is Tyler Hildebrandt, Brady Martinez, Zack Ahlmer, Ryder Seely, Chris Goucher, Paul Laliberte, Zach Booco, Wyatt Oberwitte and Garrett Buckley.

Boys basketball loses 5 starters; talented youngsters expected to lead team

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Junior Dylan Camilletti dribbles around the key during a scrimmage Nov. 12.

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Senior Andrew Raftopoulos takes the ball into the paint on a fast break in a scrimmage during Midnight Madness. Raftopoulos is one of five seniors leading the Bulldogs this season.

At a glance

Coach: Steve Maneotis, third year

Seniors: Five — Pablo Salcido, Jeremiah Gordon, Jordan Wilson, Brian Ivy and Andrew Raftopoulos

2008-09 record: 16-9 (11-3 in Western Slope League)

Strengths: Guard play, depth, defense

Weaknesses: Experience, lack of size

Dates to circle:

Jan. 28: Glenwood Springs High School comes to Moffat County for a match-up of two of last year’s premier teams in the league.

Feb. 16: Steamboat Springs High School makes its lone trip to Moffat County for the renewal of one of the league’s best rivalries.

Boys varsity basketball

12:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Montezuma-Cortez High School

TBA Dec. 10 at Steamboat Springs High School (tournament)

TBA Dec. 11 at Steamboat Springs High School (tournament)

TBA Dec. 12 at Steamboat Springs High School (tournament)

TBA Dec. 17 at Thornton (tournament)

TBA Dec. 18 at Thornton (tournament)

TBA Dec. 19 at Thornton (tournament)

TBA Dec. 19 at Thornton (tournament)

7:30 p.m. Jan. 8 vs. Eagle Valley High School

5:30 p.m. Jan. 9 vs. Battle Mountain High School

7 p.m. Jan. 12 at Grand Junction High School

7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at Palisade High School

5:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at Delta High School

7:30 p.m. Jan. 22 vs. Glenwood Springs High School

7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at Steamboat Springs High School

7:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at Battle Mountain High School

5:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at Rifle High School

7:30 p.m. Feb. 5 vs. Delta High School

5:30 p.m. Feb. 6 vs. Palisade High School

7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at Glenwood Springs High School

5:30 p.m. Feb. 13 vs. Rifle High School

7:30 p.m. Feb. 16 vs. Steamboat Springs High School

7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at Eagle Valley High School

Boys junior varsity basketball

TBA Dec. 10 at Meeker (tournament)

TBA Dec. 11 at Meeker (tournament)

TBA Dec. 12 at Meeker (tournament)

4:30 p.m. Jan. 8 vs. Eagle Valley High School

2:30 p.m. Jan. 9 vs. Battle Mountain High School

4 p.m. Jan. 12 at Grand Junction High School

4:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at Palisade High School

2:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at Delta High School

7:30 p.m. Jan. 19 vs. Rangely High School

4:30 p.m. Jan. 22 vs. Glenwood Springs High School

4:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at Steamboat Springs High School

4:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at Battle Mountain High School

2:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at Rifle High School

4:30 p.m. Feb. 5 vs. Delta High School

2:30 p.m. Feb. 6 vs. Palisade High School

4:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at Glenwood Springs High School

2:30 p.m. Feb. 13 vs. Rifle High School

4:30 p.m. Feb. 16 vs. Steamboat Springs High School

4:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at Eagle Valley High School

Boys freshman basketball

11 a.m. Dec. 5 at Montezuma-Cortez High School

TBA Dec. 15 at Hayden High School

5:15 p.m. Jan. 5 at Union High School

12:30 p.m. Jan. 9 at Uintah High School

12:30 p.m. Jan. 16 vs. Uintah High School

4:30 p.m. Jan. 19 vs. Rangely High School

6 p.m. Jan. 25 at Rifle High School

3 p.m. Jan. 26 at Steamboat Springs High School

7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 vs. Soroco High School

5:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at Battle Mountain High School

TBA Feb. 6 at Eagle Valley High School

7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 vs. Steamboat Springs High School

7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 vs. Hayden High School

11:30 a.m. Feb. 13 vs. Rifle High School

TBA Feb. 20 vs. Moffat County (tournament)

Steve Maneotis, Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball coach, uses one word to sum up the 2009-10 team.

“New,” he said. “We graduated all of our starters from last year.”

But, even with a new starting five, the team that went 16-9 overall and 11-3 in the Western Slope League last season won’t have to change everything.

“We will have a different look, because we certainly aren’t as big as we were last year, but our style of play won’t change a whole lot,” Maneotis said. “We will still be what our character has always been — we’ll be an up-tempo team, and I’m excited to see what these kids bring to the floor.”

A number of those players will be returning from last year.

“We have a good group of seniors and good group of juniors,” Maneotis said. “There’s also a good group of freshmen coming in. It’s a fun year because there are a lot of new faces.”

Despite the loss of players like Chayton Owens, the team will find ways to win, senior Andrew Raftopoulos said.

“I think we will be pretty good,” Raftopoulos said. “We lost six seniors and five starters, and it’s going to be tough, so we are going to have to come together as a team.”

The team lost two WSL all-conference players (Owens and Mike Peters), and two all-conference honorable mentions (Kelton Wilbanks and Thomas Noble).

Because the large starting frontcourt of Owens and Wilbanks will be gone, the team will need to be scrappy to succeed this year, Maneotis said.

“This year we will rely on our guard play,” he said. “Last year, we were more of an inside-out kind of team. This year, we are more outside-in.”

Maneotis said that the change isn’t necessarily a bad one.

“We have real talent out in the guards,” he said. “We have kids who can play both inside and out and create.”

The team will also need to go back to basics if it hopes to be competitive, Maneotis said.

“We need a tenacious defense, and we have to be fundamentally sound in every phase of the game,” he said. “If you look at the size of the people we have, not only are we going to have to play great team defense, but we are going to have to be fundamental in boxing out, limiting the number of shot opportunities and going down and executing our offense.”

Raftopoulos is one of five seniors on the team.

The small forward said the team will have to outshoot and outrun its opponents.

“Our strength will have to be shooting, because we don’t have too many big men,” he said. “We are going to have to be faster than the other teams because we are lacking in height, so we will need to shoot and run more.”

Along with a senior core of Jordan Wilson, Brian Ivy, Pablo Salcido, Raftopoulos and Jeremiah Gordon, the Bulldogs will get some underclassmen out on the hardwood.

“We have a few new faces,” Maneotis said. “Adam Foster is a big young man and we’re excited to see what he can do. We’re excited to see what Paul Laliberte brings to the table, and overall this is a freshman group that can play basketball.”

That group will have to gel together quickly to face the best in the Western Slope League.

Glenwood Springs, 17-8 overall, 12-2 in the Western Slope League in 2008-09, and perennial rival Steamboat Springs, 17-6 overall and 12-2 in WSL play, will be battling the Bulldogs for league supremacy.

Maneotis is entering his third year at the helm of the varsity squad, and he’s ready to get the season going with his new team attempting to achieve new heights.

“I’m excited for it — we’re all a little more comfortable in what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We are into our system and we don’t feel like we are reinventing the wheel.”

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