CMS girls basketball teams having success using the basics

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Schedule ...

Remaining 2012 schedule for the Craig Middle School girls seventh- and eighth-grade basketball teams:

(Date — time — location — opponent)

• Jan. 19 — 4 p.m. — away — Rawlins

• Jan. 21 — 9 a.m. — home — Steamboat Springs

• Jan. 24 — 4:30 p.m. — away — Baggs, Wyo.

• Jan. 26 — 4:30 p.m. — home — Soroco

• Jan. 28 — 9 a.m. — home — Meeker

• Feb. 4 — 9 a.m. — home — Rangely

• Feb. 9 — 5 p.m. — away — Steamboat Springs

• Feb. 11 — 9 a.m. — away — District Tournament (Meeker)

The main focus for the Craig Middle School girls seventh- and eighth-grade basketball teams this season has been getting the girls prepared for high school ball.

With help from Matt Ray, Moffat County High School girls varsity basketball coach, the teams are learning the new offense Ray installed for his team last season.

So far, so good, as both the seventh- and eighth-grade A-teams have started the season 4-0 and the B-teams have only lost one game apiece.

“It is a good offense to teach the girls ball movements and to always look to get open,” seventh-grade coach Candi Helladner said. “For Matt, it will make it easier for him because the girls won’t have to taught the basics again and they can make more progress as a team that way.”

Hellander, who is in her 10th year of coaching basketball, said the offense has gone well for her squads, with the girls improving in ball movement, passing and reading defenses.

The defense has made strides as well.

“We mostly run a man-to-man defense, but with the A-team we have been able to run a press defense to extend our lead in the second half,” Hellander said. “We have been working on zone defense and help-side defense and just showing the girls many different options.”

Hellander said she really tries to focus on the fundamentals with her girls and it has build very solid all-around players.

“We have to prepare differently depending on the game, but we always go back to basic, basic fundamentals,” she said. “All our girls give a lot of heart and we don’t have a lot of subs, so they have to be in good shape and willing to play hard all game.”

Alicia Townsend, the eighth-grade hoops coach, said her approach is similar to Hellander’s and she can’t skip any area of the game when coaching.

“We may do good in an area during one game, but then one week we may not, so we need to keep trying to get better in all areas,” she said. “They need to know how to play offense, how to rebound and just do everything. There is not only one area I can concentrate on because it is all important.”

Townsend, who has coached at CMS for 17 years, coached most of the same girls last season as seventh graders.

CMS rotates the coaches each year so each class has two years with the same coach.

Townsend said it allows her to know what the girls are capable of at the beginning of the season and what she needs to work on.

“We made a lot of progress and (summer) basketball has helped the girls even more with their fundamentals,” she said. “We have new girls who do have to start from scratch, but we are moving the ball well and they are doing things we coaches ask of them.”

The seventh- and eighth-grade teams get back on the court Thursday in Rawlins before hosting Steamboat Springs on Saturday.

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