Bronc Hellander sizes up a defender from Meeker Middle School during a game at Craig Middle School earlier this season. The eighth grade CMS team Saturday beat Steamboat Springs to win the district championship in Rangely.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Bronc Hellander sizes up a defender from Meeker Middle School during a game at Craig Middle School earlier this season. The eighth grade CMS team Saturday beat Steamboat Springs to win the district championship in Rangely.

Eighth-graders bring title back to Craig

The boys basketball teams from Craig Middle School just keep on delivering.

Despite the turnover from one year to the next, the eighth grade team has managed to win three consecutive district championships.

The most recent came over the weekend, when the eighth grade Bulldogs bested Rangely and then Steamboat Springs Saturday at the district tournament in Rangely. Head coach Drew Morris said it was some of his team’s best play of the year.

“We came in as the No. 1 seed, and we played well against Rangely,” Morris said. “We played Steamboat for the championship game and we beat them. I was impressed with everyone’s play throughout the season but I was really impressed with our defense in the tournament. I feel like we really turned it up a notched and played more aggressive than we normally do.”

The Bulldogs came into the tournament with the best record and No. 1 seed, but knew they would have a fight on their hands if they encountered the Steamboat during the tournament. The Sailors had beaten the same group a year ago at the seventh grade districts, and had played CMS evenly in their two regular season matchups.

“We played two really close games with Steamboat,” Morris said. “They beat us in overtime (at CMS) the first game and then in the second game we beat them by one point in regulation.”

But in the 29-20 championship game that crowned the Bulldogs as best in the area, CMS came up with its best defensive effort of the season, Morris said. Morris believes that was a key for CMS all year, and it came together well Saturday.

“We probably played the most aggressive and best defensive game that we have all year in the championship game,” he said. “There wasn’t one person who stood out throughout the tournament, but in the first half of the championship game, Joe Selbach made some important steals and got us moving the right direction in that game.”

The Bulldogs were able to build a lead and hold it, and perhaps more importantly, get their payback for a championship loss to the Sailors a year ago as seventh graders.

“It was awesome,” Morris said. “It was great for those kids cause they got beat by Steamboat in the championship last year. They wanted a little revenge and they got it this year.

“I’m proud of them. They worked hard and got to the place they wanted to be.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.

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