Moffat County junior Taft Cleverly goes up for a layup during the team's game against Meeker on Saturday. The Bulldogs won, 50-46, and won the White River Electric Cowboy Shootout.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Moffat County junior Taft Cleverly goes up for a layup during the team's game against Meeker on Saturday. The Bulldogs won, 50-46, and won the White River Electric Cowboy Shootout.

Moffat County basketball brings trophy back from Meeker

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Miguel Cruz puts up a shot versus Meeker on Saturday at Meeker High School. Cruz put in a basket late in the close game to help the Bulldogs maintain their lead and pull out a win.

Other scores...

From the Cowboy Shootout

Moffat County JV

77-44 vs. Meeker

83-53 vs. Rangely

63-30 vs. Soroco

C Team

37-51 vs. Caprock

50-12 vs. Grand Valley

48-22 vs. Crested Butte

Goal No. 1 for the Moffat County boys basketball season has been accomplished.

The Bulldogs held off another late-game rally from an opponent to beat Meeker High School, 50-46, and win the White River Electric Cowboy Shootout in Meeker on Saturday.

It was the perfect way to start the season, head coach Eric Hamilton said.

“That was our first goal of the year was to come down and win this,” Hamilton said. “Now, we’ve got to buckle down and get ready for league because everything counts.”

Moffat County, in similar fashion to its win against Rangely on Friday, surrendered a lead in the fourth quarter but made the important plays down the stretch to win. The key play in the game came with less than a minute remaining and the Bulldogs on defense with a two point lead.

After Meeker used up more than 20 seconds of clock, the Cowboys called time out to try to set up a play for the tie. But the play never would come through, as junior Taft Cleverly stole a Meeker pass with 12 seconds left in the game.

A couple of fouls later, Tyler Davis, who led the Bulldogs in scoring with 18 points, sunk two free throws to ice the game and provide the final tally. It had coach Hamilton beaming.

“I’m plum happy,” he said. “That was awesome. The guys played hard. It was a great battle by both teams, and I couldn’t be prouder of our guys.”

Both teams’ offenses were stagnant in the first quarter, producing just 11 combined points. So Moffat County enlisted a full-court press to pick up the pace of the game, and it worked.

“There was no offense, no flow” early in the game, Hamilton said. “We weren’t turning it over; we just weren’t in attack mode. That’s not our game. That’s when we put the press on to try and speed things up. It created some opportunities for us.”

Sophomore guard Joe Camilletti said the Bulldogs came out flat but the press helped get them going.

“We thought we had more of an advantage than we did,” Camilletti said. “We didn’t really play how we should and how we can, so we didn’t get a good start.

“We’re a quick team. We’ve got a lot of people who are quick with their hands, so we can get steals and force turnovers.”

Moffat County began forcing turnovers and hitting shots in the third quarter, opening up a 33-22 lead and holding a 38-28 advantage at the end of the quarter. But junior Dylan Mobley and senior Nate Walsh hit big shots for Meeker, which had success getting the ball into the middle of the paint.

With two minutes to play, the Bulldog’s lead had been cut to 46-44. Miguel Cruz sunk a jumper to extend the league, and two possessions later, Cleverly’s steal sealed the game.

Camilletti talked about the team’s need to respond better with a lead.

“We’re young, and we get worried about it during the game,” he said. “We need to calm down, know we’ve got the lead and that they’re the ones who should be freaking out. Then we just do what we’ve been doing.”

Hamilton, though, was not too concerned about diminishing leads. He saw a lot of good to takeaway from the game.

“There’s tons of things the kids can take from that win,” he said. “Experience in a tight game, holding onto a lead and just pressure, high pressure. I love that kind of game.”

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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