Moffat County basketball wins to play in early tournament championship
What: Cowboy Shootout Championship
Who: Moffat County vs. Meeker/Snake River winner
When: 2 p.m.
Where: Meeker High School
The Moffat County boys basketball team is staring at a chance to win the Cowboy Shootout today, but its two wins to get there have come in strikingly different ways.
The Bulldogs followed up an 81-44 dismantling of Soroco Thursday with a much messier 56 – 49 win over Rangely at Meeker High School Friday night.
Sophomore Tyler Davis led Moffat County with 21 points and made a few key plays down the stretch in a game that turned out to be much closer than it looked like it would be after one half. Head coach Eric Hamilton said it best after the game.
“We never could get a rhythm going tonight,” Hamilton said. “That’s probably credit to Rangely’s defense. It threw the kids off a little bit, we did make very good adjustments as a coach. We showed how young we really are tonight. It was just ugly from start to finish.”
After the first quarter the Bulldogs led 18-14, and they put a run together in the second quarter, getting out on the fast break several times and scoring quickly. MCHS outscored Rangely 11-4 to take a 29-18 lead into halftime and appeared to be on its way to another comfortable win.
But Rangely was up to the task in the second half and clawed its way back into the game with tough defense. A 2-3 zone which extended all the way to the midcourt line gave Moffat County fits for much of the second half.
The Bulldogs scored the first two baskets of the fourth quarter to go ahead 45-33, but struggled for the next several minutes. Rangely mounted a furious rally to pull within two points with three minutes remaining.
During the comeback the MCHS offense had gone stagnant and was turning the ball over. They had to regroup, Davis said.
“We just stayed calm and told each other to ease up, slow down and run the offense,” he said. “Just get good shots and hit them.”
The Bulldogs did calm down and made enough plays down the stretch to win. Davis had a baseline three bounce off the rim, then off the top of the backboard before going in. Later he would drive the lane and dish to senior Tyler Hildebrandt to give MCHS a 53-49 lead.
Hamilton was happy to win, but was not impressed with it.
“They made a run on us, scored four or five unanswered buckets,” he said. “Our rebounding was just atrocious tonight. We can’t run our fast break if we’re not rebounding. You want to win better than that, but we’ll take the W.”
The win earned Moffat County a trip to the championship game, to play either Meeker or Little Snake River Valley. Hamilton said the Bulldogs will need to play better in order to win today.
Davis agreed, putting out a simple key to the game.
“Defense,” he said. “Straight on, it’s defense. If we play better defense, we win.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.