Taft Cleverly, a Moffat County High School sophomore, dribbles around a Glenwood Springs defender Feb. 14 in the MCHS boys varsity basketball team’s home finale. Senior Colby Haddan said the 78-56 win over Glenwood was the highlight of a season that was used more to build the program than to compete for a league title.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Taft Cleverly, a Moffat County High School sophomore, dribbles around a Glenwood Springs defender Feb. 14 in the MCHS boys varsity basketball team’s home finale. Senior Colby Haddan said the 78-56 win over Glenwood was the highlight of a season that was used more to build the program than to compete for a league title.

MCHS boys basketball team sees 2011-12 as foundation for coming years

Results ...

The Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball team’s results from the 2011-12 regular season:

(Date — opponent — score)

• Dec. 8/11 — Windsor — 95-48L

• Dec. 9/11 — Green River — 50-47W

• Dec. 10/11 — Castle View — 64-51L

• Dec. 16/11 — Montrose — 78-51L

• Dec. 17/11 — Olathe — 55-36L

• Dec. 17/11 — Denver North — 62-56L

• Jan. 5 — Central Grand Junction — 57-55W

• Jan. 7 — Glenwood Springs — 54-45L

• Jan. 10 — Aspen — 66-46L

• Jan. 11 — Grand Junction — 59-50L

• Jan. 13 — Eagle Valley — 65-47L

• Jan. 14 — Battle Mountain — 53-39W

• Jan. 20 — Delta — 73-58L

• Jan. 21 — Palisade — 51-31L

• Jan. 24 — Steamboat Springs — 54-32L

• Feb. 3 — Eagle Valley — 71-43L

• Feb. 4 — Battle Mountain — 58-31W

• Feb. 7 — Basalt — 70-58W

• Feb. 10 — Delta — 80-58L

• Feb. 11 — Palisade — 68-48L

• Feb. 14 — Glenwood Springs — 78-56W

• Feb. 17 — Steamboat Springs — 57-49L

— MCHS went 6-16 overall, 3-9 Western Slope League

The Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball team’s season didn’t start the way coaches or players hoped.

The Bulldogs had just two wins a month into the season and the team’s offense was streaky.

But, first-year head coach Eric Hamilton said he knew there would be growing pains along the way.

Hamilton was the team’s third head coach in as many years and seven freshmen suited up for the varsity during the season.

Through hard work and a team concept, Hamilton said the Bulldogs made great strides during the season, ending with a 6-16 overall record and 3-9 in the Western Slope League.

“I think we came a long way this year,” he said. “We played together at the end of the year and we got fundamentally better in a lot of different parts of the game.

“The guys started playing aggressive and showed intensity on defense from the opening tip-off to the final buzzer.

“The biggest thing, though, is they showed a lot more heart and a lot more will to win this year.”

The Bulldogs showed promise in the season-opening Steamboat Springs Shootout, beating Green River (Wyo.) and playing tough in a loss to Castle View.

However, after dropping the first two games of the Black Canyon Classic the following weekend, the team blew a 10-point halftime lead over Denver North to fall 62-56 and go 0-3 in the tournament.

“In the beginning of the season, we didn’t know what to expect with a new coach, a new style and never having really all played together,” senior Colby Haddan said. “We tried to do too much individual stuff, but the coaches kept telling us we had no superstars on the team and we had to work together to have good things happen.

“By the end, we knew the system and were working as a team within that system.”

The 2011-12 season was the final song and dance for seniors Haddan, Andy Browning, Braden Sullivan and Jacob Scroggs.

Hamilton said the seniors never game up during the season.

“The seniors did a great job of showing up to practice every night and showing leadership,” he said. “They could have hung it up halfway through the season when it was evident we weren’t going to win a lot of games, but they never quit.”

Scroggs injured his foot in a Jan. 13 loss to Eagle Valley and had to sit out the rest of the season.

Junior Tyler Hildebrandt stepped up, going from sixth man to one of the most consistent scorers on the team for the final half of the season.

“(Hildebrandt) was pumped up and he came to work harder in practice and he carried that into the games,” Hamilton said. “He was so excited to be a starter, his whole game changed. He was our go-to guy by the end of the season and probably our best player, or at least most improved.”

The Bulldogs won three of their last six games, including a 78-56 rout of Glenwood Springs on Feb. 14.

Haddan said the Glenwood win, which coincided with senior night, was the highlight of the season.

“We came out and we killed them,” Haddan said. “That was my last time playing on the home court and it was by far the best game of the season.”

The seniors’ final season didn’t necessary go the way they wanted, Haddan said, but they knew they were helping build the program for years to come.

“We came into this season and we knew we weren’t going to be some great, dominant force,” he said. “We wanted to get the team going with a new coach and get the fan support back for the team.

“We built a foundation for the program and that was our biggest goal this year.”

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