The Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball team begins its second run through the Western Slope League tonight, as the Bulldogs battle Eagle Valley High School.
After losing to Eagle Valley 65-43 on the road Jan. 14, the Bulldogs get the Devils on friendly ground time around.
The game is set for 7:30 p.m. at MCHS, 900 Finley Lane.
Bulldogs coach David Bradshaw said the Devils (5-13 overall, 2-6 WSL) run a press defense, which caused trouble for his team in the last meeting.
“We match up athletically with Eagle Valley, but we will have to limit our mistakes,” he said. “Last time we had too many turnovers and we couldn’t break their zone press.”
Junior post player Colby Haddan said he feels his team has improved since the last game against the Devils.
“We have worked harder on our sets and we are a little more fine-tuned,” he said. “I think we do a lot better on offense with pressure because we are calm and have more patience.”
The Bulldogs (2-14 overall, 1-5 WSL) will look to effectively run their half-court offense against the Devils, Bradshaw said.
“If we can get lay ups in and not let (Eagle Valley) control the tempo, we should be fine,” he said. “When we force things or try to run with their transition game, that is when we get in trouble.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs will look to run either a man-to-man or zone defense to slow the Devils’ transition game.
Haddan said he and fellow post player Angelo Raftopoulos would have to set the tempo in the post.
“(Eagle Valley) has a 6’5” guy, and he could be a problem,” he said. “We aren’t that big, so we will have to contain him the whole game.”
Bradshaw said the advantage of playing WSL teams a second time is his players are more prepared.
“I think all the kids definitely know all the (WSL) teams and recognize they can beat them,” he said. “All they have to do is compete.”
To win their second WSL game, Bradshaw said his team’s perimeter and interior offensive playmakers will have to step up.
“If our shooter can take care of the ball and Angelo (Raftopoulos) and Colby (Haddan) can make things happen inside, we have a chance,” he said. “We have to play our roles.”
Keeping streak alive
After a slow start in the last meeting, the Moffat County High School girls varsity basketball team will look to jump on Eagle Valley early at 6 p.m. tonight at MCHS.
The Bulldogs (11-6 overall, 5-1 Western Slope League) trailed the Devils (5-12 overall, 2-6 WSL) by one point after the first quarter Jan. 14, a fact coach Matt Ray attributed to his team’s impatience.
“We weren’t patient and we tried to force the ball a lot,” he said. “That kept (Eagle Valley) in the game early.”
A strong second half, however, allowed the Bulldogs to win on the road, 43-31.
Ray said his team would have to shut down Devils post player Kayla Gagnon.
“Their post player scored 17 points on us in our last game,” he said. “If we can contain her and not let anyone else get hot, we should win.”
MCHS senior Britteny Ivers said Gagnon would be a player to watch for the Bulldogs’ defense.
“We definitely have to shut down their post,” she said. “Our defense will be a big factor in the outcome of the game.”
Offensively, Ray said the Bulldogs, who have won five straight, shouldn’t have a problem getting a good shot.
“If we play our game and control the ball, we will be fine,” he said. “We are quicker than them, so we should be able to get some good shots off on offense.”
This will be the second game the Bulldogs have used a new offense that was installed before last week’s Steamboat Springs game, and Ivers said the offense could impact the game.
“If we can execute our new offense, I think we will win,” she said. “We have to come out and play with confidence.”
Ray said there are advantages and disadvantages to facing a team twice in a season.
“We know who their good players are and who puts up the stats, that is definitely an advantage,” he said. “On the other hand, (Eagle Valley) will know who our go-to players are as well.”
With strong seasons from senior Lauren Roberts and junior Melissa Camilletti thus far, Ray said he feels his team can hang with anyone in the league.
“At this point in our season, I don’t think any team in our league can shut us down completely,” he said.