Moffat County High School junior Taft Cleverly goes up for a layup at the tail end of a fast break. Cleverly scored 14 for the Bulldogs, who beat Grand Valley, 84-43, Thursday night in the MCHS gym.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Moffat County High School junior Taft Cleverly goes up for a layup at the tail end of a fast break. Cleverly scored 14 for the Bulldogs, who beat Grand Valley, 84-43, Thursday night in the MCHS gym.

MCHS boys wear out Grand Valley in league opener

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Bulldogs leading scorers

Thursday vs. Grand Valley

Tyler Davis — 18 points

Taft Cleverly — 14

Miguel Cruz — 14

Matt Hamilton — 11

As the final horn sounded, the Moffat County boys basketball team dribbled out an impressive win to open its league season.

The Bulldogs, after some offensive struggles in Meeker a week ago, delivered a full-game performance and put the rest of the Western Slope League 3A on notice with an 84-43 victory over Grand Valley High School Thursday night.

Moffat County (now 4-0) built a lead in the first quarter by creating turnovers with full-court pressure on defense. Head coach Eric Hamilton believes this group of players feeds off early-game energy, so he forced it into the game from the opening tip.

“I like to start out like that,” Hamilton said of pressing. “I think we’ve got a group who gets in the flow when they get after it like that. So far it’s working.”

The Bulldogs took an 18-7 advantage after the first and never looked back. In the second half especially, their up-and-down style was on full display, as they poured in 28 points in a dominant third quarter.

“I think we saw we were running the ball good so we just kept pushing the ball hard,” junior guard Taft Cleverly said. “We wanted to start out fast and keep it going.”

Perhaps even more importantly, the 41-point win came from a wide range of players contributing in all facets of the game. The Bulldogs had four players score in double figures, led by sophomore Tyler Davis’s 18.

Hamilton said it was their best team effort of the young season.

“That was outstanding,” he said. “I thought the guys played, top to bottom, just solid. There was a lot of teamwork and very intense defense. That’s exactly the level we’re trying to get to. There was some great passing, too. That was a lot of fun.”

Every member of the team got into the game and played several minutes, and the Bulldogs turned suffocating pressure defense into easy points on the other end.

Coming off a 6-13 season the Moffat County coaches and players were confident they would be a bigger force in the league this season. While Hamilton knows Grand Valley was without a couple players, a victory in this fashion will make the rest of their league know the MCHS is no pushover.

“This was a big win for us,” Hamilton said. “We talked about (starting off strong). I know Grand Valley will be tougher the next time we play them, but people are going to check scores and see what we’re doing.”

Cleverly called it a statement win.

“We wanted to start the league off right, get a win and send the statement that we’re here to do well,” he said.

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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