Craig Middle School 8th-grade hoops wins districts
Season record: 14-0
District tournament placing: First
CMS vs. Rangely, 37-25
CMS vs. Steamboat Springs, 40-27
— The seventh-grade boys basketball team finished the season 7-7, winning second place at districts
During his team’s 13th game of the season, Craig Middle School boys basketball coach Steve Loveland was afraid that the Bulldogs were about to hit a run of bad luck.
But, not only did the team end the game victorious, they repeated the feat to complete an undefeated season.
The eighth-grade boys took home the top honors at the district tournament Saturday, beating host team Rangely, as well as Steamboat Springs, to finish the season 14-0.
Although the team entered the tournament 12-0, Loveland said competitors — all of whom had lost to CMS twice within the season — were ready to take the Bulldogs down.
“Rangely played better than I’d ever seen them,” he said. “We were actually losing at first. They gave us some good competition. The guys really had to work for it, and they earned it.”
Eighth-grader Denton Taylor joked that the Bulldogs were still half asleep early in the game, though he admitted that Rangely had upped its game.
“They were better than ever,” he said.
The team won, 37-25, moving onto the final round against Steamboat.
Loveland said the Sailors were “more aggressive” than they had been all season.
“We could hear them yelling in the locker room 20 minutes before the game, ‘We’re gonna beat Craig!’ and getting all pumped up,” he said.
CMS won, 40-27, with Taylor, Tyler Davis, Joe Camilletti and other starters helping in the effort.
“They were hitting every shot, all over the place,” Loveland said.
Loveland added that he also put in several players from his B team, including Lane Causer, who provided a strong defense against Steamboat’s 6-foot, 8-inch center.
“The entire bench did awesome,” he said.
Loveland said he was excited to finish his first year coaching with a flawless season.
“It’s easy when you have a good group of guys like this,” he said. “They could play for anybody and do well.”
Loveland’s players believe that their coach was more integral than he was willing to admit.
“He gave us a lot of confidence this season,” Camilletti said.
With his players moving onto high school, Loveland said he is not sure what to expect next year, when he has to take on a whole new squad.
“It’ll be an adjustment,” he said. “It’ll give me a chance to develop as a coach.”
Loveland and seventh-grade coach Drew Morris have yet to arrange the duties for next year.
As for whether or not next season’s eighth-grade team will be able to continue the winning streak, things look promising. The seventh-grade team finished second in districts, finishing the season 7-7.
In the first game, Morris said the team came from behind to score 17 points in the fourth quarter, beating Steamboat, 30-24. The final game was a 39-24 loss to Meeker, but Morris said the results were still encouraging compared to earlier in the season.
“They’ve improved tremendously,” he said. “They’ve really picked it up.”
Morris said many of the things the team needed to improve for next year are fundamental, including dribbling.
“As long as the kids work on not traveling in the off-season, we’ll be fine,” he said.