Craig Middle School girls basketball vs. Soroco:
Seventh-grade A-team: 35-15W
Season record: 7-0
Eighth-grade A-team: 51-14W
Season record: 7-0
If you go…
What: Girls basketball vs. Meeker
When: 9 a.m. today
Where: Craig Middle School, 915 Yampa Ave., and Sandrock Elementary School, 201 E. Ninth St.
In October 2011, seventh-grader Alex Hamilton experienced the joy of a sports season capped off with a huge win when her volleyball team took top honors at the district tournament.
Now, she and her teammates are well on their way to repeating the success with a different sport.
The Craig Middle School girls basketball teams were at the top of their games Thursday afternoon when they hosted the Soroco Rams. The Bulldogs’ seventh- and eighth-grade squads each overran their Oak Creek opponents from the opening tip.
After taking the lead early in the first half, the seventh-graders had a comfortable 27-8 cushion at the close of the third quarter, with strong shooting from Mattie Jo Duzik and Josey King.
“We’ve got some really good rebounders on this team,” coach Candi Hellander said.
Hellander said she has stressed the importance of “reversing the ball” and being prepared for both offense and defense. Providing a defensive spark in the game was Emma Samuelson, quick with steals and even quicker sprinting to the basket.
“I always try to be ready for that,” Samuelson said. “I’ve been working on my steals in practices.”
Though CMS outmatched Soroco in ballhandling most of the game, the Rams started to tighten up in the final quarter, retaining possession of the ball more successfully. The last-minute push wasn’t enough to catch up, with the Bulldogs finishing with a 35-15 triumph.
“We got a lot of fast breaks, and I think that helped us out,” Hamilton said. “We had good teamwork, too.”
Solid teamwork also propelled the eighth-graders to a quick lead, with a foul shot by Shelby Fliniau signaling the end of a 15-4 first quarter.
By halftime, the score was 27-6 CMS.
Coach Alicia Townsend said her team’s intensity was good considering a diminished roster.
“I had a lot of players who, for various reasons, weren’t able to play tonight, so we had to move some people around and bring up some B-team players,” she said. “They definitely played well.”
A strategy of moving the ball quickly on offense and sticking to a man-to-man defense kept the team well ahead throughout the second half. Vigilance on offense and defense alike by Fliniau, Ary Shaffer and Kaitlyan Reed, among others, culminated in a 51-14 finale.
Emily White said the considerable score wasn’t even the highest the team has seen this season.
“Our biggest win was 61-6 against Meeker earlier this year,” she said.
CMS will host Meeker for a rematch this morning for the season’s last home game. Both Bulldog A-teams will be going in with 7-0 records, though the seventh-graders had more trouble with Meeker the first time around.
“Neither team had many practices in then, so it was pretty close,” Hellander said. “Meeker should give us another good game.”
Meeker will also host the district tournament Feb. 11.
Many of the members of the seventh-grade basketball team were also part of the volleyball team that won the district tournament in the fall.
Hamilton said she fully believes her team can follow their first-place finish at districts with another in the same school year.
“I think we can get there, and I think we can pull it off,” she said.
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