Zach Raftopoulos pivots to avoid a trap during basketball practice Wednesday night at the Moffat County High School gym. The varsity team will play Montezuma-Cortez High School at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Palisade.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Zach Raftopoulos pivots to avoid a trap during basketball practice Wednesday night at the Moffat County High School gym. The varsity team will play Montezuma-Cortez High School at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Palisade.

Moffat lets the basketball games begin

photo

Angelo Raftopoulos makes a pass during basketball practice Wednesday night. The team is turning up the practice intensity to prepare for its opener this weekend.

Starting lineup

Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball starting lineup for Saturday’s game versus Montezuma-Cortez High School in Palisade.

Dustin Carlson

Dylan Camilletti

Andrew Raftopoulos/Chet Harvey

Jordan Wilson

Brian Ivy

Coach Steve Maneotis needed only two words to describe his team before the first game of the young season.

“We’re ready,” he said. “I don’t know who’s more ready — the coaches or the players.”

The boys varsity basketball team will have that and many more questions answered at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Palisade, when the Bulldogs play Montezuma-Cortez High School.

For the first game of the year, Maneotis expects only one thing.

“Effort,” he said. “I want to see a total team effort on both ends of the floor, with a lot of emphasis on our defensive effort.”

The offense is still experimenting with different plays, Maneotis said.

“We’ll take a look at a lot of different combinations,” he said. “We’re still looking at those structured versus non-structured types of offensive sets.”

The first game of the year also will show Maneotis where his team will be for the rest of the year.

“I think it’s a good indicator — they’re fresh, I think it will speak volumes to what type of attitude we bring onto the floor,” he said. “It’s a confidence builder. At least you hope it’s a confidence builder. We’ll see what we can take from this.”

Last year, the Bulldogs were able to count on center Chayton Owens and a starting lineup full of seniors.

This year, the offense will be spread around but could come from one source, Maenotis said.

“The hottest hand,” he said. “This is a wide-open look. What we’re trying to do is get guys to recognize opportunities and capitalize on opponents’ weaknesses.”

The leading scorer could be any player on the roster, Maneotis added.

“One night that might be a Jordan Wilson, the next night it might be Dustin Carlson, Zach Raftopoulos or Dylan Camilletti or (Brian) Ivy,” he said. “That’s a big, big difference from where we were last year, when we knew we had a big, dominant post player, who was going to bring an average of 22 to 24 points a game.”

In that regard, Moffat County and Montezuma-Cortez share more than just their initials.

“We’re similar in a lot of ways,” Maneotis said. “They lost a dominant post player, they play a very spread out three-point oriented offense. They really are disciplined in their dribble-penetration and kick.”

But, there might be one large difference,” Maneotis said.

“I expect they’ll be bigger than us, like most teams,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll be looking for revenge from last year — they held the lead on us for a long time before we came back and closed it out on them.”

The boys team won’t be the only Bulldogs in action.

Starting today, the girls varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams will compete in the Vernal (Utah) Tournament.

Coach Craig Mortensen said there are a few things he wants to see from Moffat County.

“Just work hard, a lot of enthusiasm and have a lot of fun,” he said. “I want them to persist There will be ups, downs, we just have to persist.”

The team will start with a game against Orem, Utah at 5:30 p.m., followed by contests with Evanston, Wyo., and North Sand Peak, Utah.

After the first games of the season, the team should know a little better where it stands in the Western Slope League.

“This year, we’re so young we’re going to see some good things, we’re going to see some things that are glaring,” Mortensen said. “We’ll find out.”

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