Eric Hamilton wants his team to finish 2012 with some momentum heading into the new year.
The Moffat County High School boys basketball coach thinks a couple wins this weekend are imperative coming off a 54-51 loss last Saturday to Roaring Fork. In the loss, the Bulldogs held a double-digit lead in the third quarter, but fell apart in the fourth and surrendered a winnable game.
“We feel like we should have had that game,” Hamilton said. “We played three really good quarters and just had a horrible fourth quarter. (We had) seven turnovers, critical turnovers, and seven points for us in the fourth quarter is terrible.
“We feel like we gave that one to Roaring Fork. They played a solid ball game but we just didn’t finish.”
As a result, the Bulldogs have looked at the tape from that game and been working mostly on the defensive side to improve going forward.
“We really broke down our defense and worked on some things from the film that we needed to correct,” Hamilton said. “Just techniques and stuff.”
Hitting the boards was another point of emphasis during the week of practice.
“We’ve been working a lot on boxing out and rebounding,” sophomore Tyler Davis said. “That’s what killed us the most. Our defense and closing out, too. If we do that, then we’ll win.”
Moffat County’s Friday night opponent, Olathe, is 2-2 so far and 1-1 in the Western Slope League. The Pirates have struggled to score so far this season, averaging just 39 points per game.
Despite the slow start, memories from last season have Hamilton taking the game as seriously as any.
“They were double-tough last year,” he said. “We played them in the Montrose tournament and they took it to us. They beat us by almost 20 points so we’re not taking them lightly. They’re .500 right now but we know they’re going to be tough.”
Davis remembers the game but has confidence in himself and his teammates for the rematch.
“That was last year,” he said. “This year is a new team and we’re ready. We don’t think we’re going to lose.”
To win, the Bulldogs will need to stop Olathe seniors Tanner Vernon and Russell Harris, who average over half the team’s points. Another key will be turning the ball over less than in previous games.
“ We need more ball control,” Hamilton said. “Taft (Cleverly), he plays 110 percent on defense, but we just need a little more control on offense. He’s been great this week in practice, and I’m not putting it all on him. We need more ball control from our entire team.”
Less turnovers and a better fourth quarter will help the Bulldogs on their way to a 2-0 weekend heading into winter break. A strong finish before break is important to the team, Hamilton said.
“Every team wants to go into the break doing well, but we think these next two games are crucial for us to get two wins and go into the break 6-1,” he said. “That’s where we want to be and anything else would be disappointing.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.