Taft Cleverly, a Moffat County High School sophomore, looks for a pass during practice Nov. 14 at MCHS. Cleverly will help lead the Bulldogs offensive attack from the point guard position this season.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Taft Cleverly, a Moffat County High School sophomore, looks for a pass during practice Nov. 14 at MCHS. Cleverly will help lead the Bulldogs offensive attack from the point guard position this season.

‘Will to win’

MCHS boys basketball heads into season under new direction

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Team at a glance ...

Coaches:

• Eric Hamilton — head coach

• John Haddan — JV coach

• Jim Loughran — freshmen coach

Seniors:

• Andy Browning

• Colby Haddan

• Jacob Scroggs

• Braeden Sullivan

2010 record:

• 2-20 overall, 1-11 Western Slope League

By the numbers:

4: The 2011 season will be head coach Eric Hamilton’s fourth year as a varsity coach and first as the Bulldogs head coach. Hamilton led the Hayden High School girls varsity basketball team for the previous three years.

3: Eric Hamilton will be the third coach the senior class has played under. Steve Maneotis coached for the 2008 and 2009 seasons before David Bradshaw took over for the 2010 season.

0-13: The Bulldogs went 0-13 last season on the road while going 2-7 at home.

photo

Jacob Scroggs, a Moffat County High School senior, tips a ball up during a practice Nov. 14 at MCHS. Scroggs and fellow seniors Andy Browning, Colby Haddan and Braeden Sullivan will lead the MCHS boys varsity basketball team under new head coach Eric Hamilton.

2011-2012 Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball schedule:

(Date — place — host/opponent)

• Dec. 8 — away — Steamboat Springs Shootout

• Dec. 9 — away — Steamboat Springs Shootout

• Dec. 10 — away — Steamboat Springs Shootout

• Dec. 16 — away — Montrose Tournament

• Dec. 17 — away — Montrose Tournament

• Jan. 5 — away — Central Grand Junction High School

• Jan. 7 — away — Glenwood Springs High School

• Jan. 10 — home — Aspen High School

• Jan. 11 — away — Grand Junction High School

• Jan. 13 — home — Eagle Valley High School

• Jan. 14 — away — Battle Mountain High School

• Jan. 17 — away — Basalt High School

• Jan. 20 — home — Delta High School

• Jan. 21 — home — Palisade High School

• Jan. 24 — home — Steamboat Springs High School

• Feb. 3 — away — Eagle Valley High School

• Feb. 4 — home — Battle Mountain High School

• Feb. 7 — home — Basalt High School

• Feb. 10 — away — Delta High School

• Feb. 11 — away — Palisade High School

• Feb. 14 — home — Glenwood Springs High School

• Feb. 17 — away — Steamboat Springs High School

2011-2012 Moffat County High School boys junior varsity basketball schedule:

(Date — place — host/opponent)

• Dec. 8 — away — Soroco High School

• Dec. 9 — away — Rangely High School

• Dec. 10 — away — Rangely High School

• Jan. 5 — away — Central Grand Junction High School

• Jan. 7 — away — Glenwood Springs High School

• Jan. 11 — away — Grand Junction High School

• Jan. 13 — home — Eagle Valley High School

• Jan. 14 — away — Battle Mountain High School

• Jan. 20 — home — Delta High School

• Jan. 21 — home — Palisade High School

• Jan. 23 — home — Soroco High School

• Jan. 24 — home — Steamboat Springs High School

• Feb. 3 — away — Eagle Valley High School

• Feb. 4 — home — Battle Mountain High School

• Feb. 10 — away — Delta High School

• Feb. 11 — away — Palisade High School

• Feb. 14 — home — Glenwood Springs High School

• Feb. 17 — away — Steamboat Springs High School

2011-2012 Moffat County High School boys freshmen basketball schedule:

(Date — place — host/opponent)

• Dec. 8 — away — Soroco High School

• Dec. 9 — away — Rangely High School

• Dec. 10 — away — Rangely High School

• Jan. 10 — home — Aspen High School

• Jan. 17 — away — Basalt High School

• Jan. 21 — away — Eagle Valley Tournament

• Jan. 23 — home — Soroco High School

• Jan. 28 — home — Moffat County Tournament

• Jan. 30 — home — Rifle High School

• Feb. 6 — home — Steamboat Springs High School

• Feb. 7 — home — Basalt High School

• Feb. 17 — away — Steamboat Springs High School

If Colby Haddan knows only one thing about the upcoming Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball season, it’s that he wants to win.

In his freshman year, Haddan and the Bulldogs enjoyed a winning record.

However, the last two seasons haven’t gone as planned, with MCHS recording only eight wins in the past two years including a 2-20 record last season.

“I feel we have had pretty strong open gym sessions,” said Haddan, now a senior. “We are hoping to improve on last year. We haven’t had a winning season since my freshman year.”

This season, the Bulldogs will play for a new coach, Eric Hamilton, after David Bradshaw resigned during the summer.

The Bulldogs will also be young, with Haddan the only player to see significant minutes last season.

However, for Haddan and the three other seniors — Andy Browning, Jacob Scroggs and Braeden Sullivan — helping the young players will help the team in the end.

“We want to get out there and show the younger players how to do it,” Haddan said. “They are the future, and we want to set a foundation for them.”

Fast and furious

One of the key underclassmen this season will be sophomore Taft Cleverly, who will start at point guard.

Last season, the Bulldogs had three senior perimeter players.

Taking over as point guard, Cleverly said he is thankful to have four experien-

ced seniors.

“I have a lot of seniors around me and I know they will help out,” he said. “Having the support is going to help the younger players get prepared and keep getting better.”

Moving up the court, Cleverly said his first read is always the outlet to push the ball.

With Browning and Scroggs stepping into the post position, Hamilton said Haddan will move out to wing to help the offense.

“We are going to be real strong at the post,” he said. “We may move Colby out to a wing position and run the floor, but he can go inside and outside. Jacob and Andy have been playing strong and we are big, but we want to run, too.”

Taking on the point guard position will require Cleverly to develop more than just basketball skills, Hamilton said.

“Taft really has a lot of learning to do as far as the point guard role,” he said. “His skills are there, but he will have to step up into a leadership role, but I definitely believe he can do it.”

Haddan said the Bulldogs’ speed should cause problems for opposing defenses this season.

“Our ability to run up and down the floor is going to be our strength on offense,” he said. “We will have five guys who can move up and down the court pretty fast, and the defenses will get tired and will have to pull people back.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Hamilton said it would require a little time to become familiar with the players to see which way the team will go.

“We want to focus more on pressure defense and a little more running style of game,” he said. “But, we have to see what the players are able to do. We have to read them, but we have to see how it works out leading into the season.”

A different mindset

Only about 15 minutes into a practice Nov. 14 at MCHS, Hamilton raised his voice as he explained how to work a passing and lay-up drill.

Cleverly said that is exactly what the team needs.

“We see a lot of intensity (from Hamilton), and I like it,” he said. “I want to work hard, and that is what you have to do to win games. Everyone wants it really bad and wants to help have a successful season.”

With the senior class enjoying just one winning season thus far, the expectations are high in this final year, Haddan said.

If the preseason workouts have been any indication, Hamilton said the team would enjoy success.

“The kids need to learn how to win and develop a will to win,” he said. “In the past couple of weeks, I have seen a lot of that. They have worked harder than I have seen any kids work, and the upperclassmen are leading the way.”

Having been hired in August, Hamilton didn’t get much time in the summer to work with his team.

Combined with the lack of varsity experience, the coach said everyone has to be ready to go all the time.

“Not having the summer is a huge disadvantage,” he said. “You work on so many things and game situations, so it set us back for sure. But, you have to take what you got and make the most of it. The kids really want to do good and they come to work hard every day.”

Haddan said he thinks the team will be more than ready when the Bulldogs open the season Dec. 8 and 9 at the Steamboat Springs Shootout.

“We are a tough, aggressive team and we have to go out and give it our all,” he said. “Every game matters. Our work ethic has been phenomenal and no one has gave up, so that is going to be a big positive in every game.”

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