Joe Camilletti, Taft Cleverly and Tyler Davis each started playing basketball when they were in grade school.
All three worked their way through the ranks, starting in the youth leagues before suiting up for the Craig Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade teams.
But Cleverly, a Moffat County High School sophomore, and freshmen Camilletti and Davis, found themselves in a rare position in the 2011-12 season — contributing as young players for a varsity basketball team.
“All three of those guys are dedicated to basketball,” head coach Eric Hamilton said. “They have put in a lot of hours in the sport and they are only getting better. They each have a great work ethic and we coaches expect them to help make this program successful.”
The boys basketball program at MCHS has endured three straight losing seasons, including last season’s dismal 2-20 mark. Hamilton, a first-year coach at MCHS, along with the three underclassmen contributors helped the Bulldogs triple last season’s win total. The team went 6-16 overall and 3-9 in the Western Slope League.
Hamilton said the three players are good building blocks for the future.
Cleverly started at point guard for the Bulldogs and is the floor general on both sides of the ball, Hamilton said.
Getting experience now is crucial to future success, Cleverly said.
“The experience we get now is going to help the most in two years when we are the varsity team,” he said of himself, Camilletti and Davis. “We get a chance to work together now in varsity games and we are building a chemistry to work as one unit.”
Camilletti and Davis didn’t start during the season, but they saw good minutes each game and sparked the Bulldogs off the bench.
Camilletti said he enjoyed the opportunity.
“It is fun to be able to play with the bigger, stronger, faster varsity guys,” he said. “Being able to play now is going to let me see what I can do to help the team as I get older.”
All three players have a high basketball IQ, Hamilton said, and the early exposure will allow them to lead the team down the road.
“Instead of just playing with other freshmen, this year helps me become a better player,” Davis said. “We are all going to keep working to improve.”
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