MCHS boys varsity basketball falls in Thornton

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Despite an improved effort and better offensive production, Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball couldn’t break through during last week’s Thornton Tournament.

Playing against some of the top teams in Division 4A, the Bulldogs weren’t able to register a win.

Coach Steve Maneotis said his team played hard but struggled to close out close games.

“It was a very, very tough weekend,” Maneotis said. “We played four very big teams, and Pueblo East is probably the best team we’ll face all year.”

The team fell to Pueblo East, 74-34, Littleton, 64-32, Denver West, 50-44, and Mesa Ridge, 73-65.

Pueblo East had more experience on the floor, which started the young Bulldogs off at a disadvantage.

“They brought back four of their five starters from last year, and their point guard is a Division I recruit,” Maneotis said. “He’s just really good, and he hurt us in a number of different ways.”

Pueblo East was able to stifle Moffat County’s offense with a relentless defensive effort and also had an advantage in the paint on both ends of the floor, Maneotis said.

“We didn’t have the firepower to keep up,” he said. “In the end, we had a great effort, but it just wasn’t enough.”

Against Littleton, Moffat County got off to a sluggish start.

“The first half killed us,” Maneotis said. “We scored 10 points on seven shots.”

Part of the problem was a considerable size disadvantage, as Maneotis said Littleton’s guards were the same height as Moffat County’s post players.

The second half saw a revamped effort from Moffat County, but Littleton was able to pull away.

Maneotis said he saw the best effort his team displayed in the tournament against Denver West.

“We played a relatively solid ballgame,” he said. “It was 47-44, we had a steal and we were trying to call a timeout but the refs didn’t catch it.”

Moffat County was called for an offensive foul, however, and Denver East was able to stretch its lead to six.

But Moffat County was not without several strong performers, Maneotis said.

“I felt like everyone gave a good effort,” he said. “Zach Raftopoulos had his best game of the tournament, and Dylon Camilletti had a solid tournament despite playing on just one leg.”

Against Mesa Ridge, Maneotis said he saw a new fire from his team.

“They came out with the intentions of winning that game,” he said. “In the other games, they just wanted to compete. But against Mesa Ridge, they came out focused and expecting to win.”

Maneotis said the Bulldogs gave one of their better offensive performances of the year, but the transitional game was lacking.

“We would score a big bucket, then they would get an easy layup,” he said. “The biggest difference was that they shot 20 freethrows and made 16. We shot and made four. We need to get to the line more.”

In the game against Mesa Ridge, Jordan Wilson scored 18 points, Camilletti scored 13 and Zach Raftopoulos scored 11.

“That’s the kind of offensive production we need from our starters,” Maneotis said. “Pablo (Salcido) had his best game of the season against Mesa Ridge. We put him in the starting lineup and he did a great job.”

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