Tyler Hildebrandt, a Moffat County High School junior, started the season as the MCHS boys varsity basketball team’s sixth man, but seized the opportunity to become a starter and was named Wednesday to the Western Slope League all-conference first team. Senior Andy Browning, who was named an all-conference honorable mention, joined Hildebrandt in postseason recognition.

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Tyler Hildebrandt, a Moffat County High School junior, started the season as the MCHS boys varsity basketball team’s sixth man, but seized the opportunity to become a starter and was named Wednesday to the Western Slope League all-conference first team. Senior Andy Browning, who was named an all-conference honorable mention, joined Hildebrandt in postseason recognition.

MCHS junior Tyler Hildebrandt goes from 6th man to all-conference 1st team

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All-conference selections

The Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball team’s Western Slope League all-conference selections:

(Name — year — honor)

• Tyler Hildebrandt — junior — first team

• Andy Browning — senior — honorable mention

Tyler Hildebrandt enjoyed success in the first month of the Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball team’s season.

As the first man coming off the bench, Hildebrandt, an MCHS junior, relieved the Bulldogs two post players, seniors Andy Browning and Jacob Scroggs.

Head coach Eric Hamilton said Hildebrandt did his job, filling in for the two starters when needed and contributing on both sides of the court.

However, in a Jan. 13 loss to Eagle Valley, Scroggs left the game with a foot injury and was forced to sit out the rest of the season.

Hamilton inserted Hildebrandt into the starting lineup and the junior took little time excelling in his new role.

Hildebrandt was the Bulldogs leading scorer over the last six games and finished the season ranked second on the team in rebounds per game and points per game.

Hildebrandt’s rise to stardom earned him Western Slope League all-conference first-team honors Wednesday, the only Bulldog to be named to the first team.

Browning was named an honorable mention.

“Tyler really made a difference inside because he is such a strong kid,” Hamilton said. “He picked it up and changed the game of everyone on the team. I think the other league coaches saw how he played and finished the season against league teams and that is why they chose him for first team.”

Hildebrandt averaged nine points and five rebounds per game for the Bulldogs, who finished the season 6-16 overall and 3-9 in the league.

The junior said being named to the first team was a great honor, but more a testament to his team than his individual play.

“It is a great accomplishment, but I have my teammates and coaches to thank for it,” he said. “There were a lot of nerves when I became a starter, but it was exciting and it was a great feeling to get the opportunity.”

Hamilton said when Hildebrandt became a starter, his work ethic increased 10 times in practice.

Hildebrandt said he always tried to give it his all, but after Scroggs went down he felt more pressure.

“I tired to work hard at practice before but when I became a starter, what I did meant more to the team,” he said. “I think defense was definitely my strength because the coaches always said there are two things you can control, rebounds and how hard you play defense. Both just come down to how hard you work.”

Browning led the team in rebounds, averaging six per game, and averaged nine points per game for the season.

Hamilton said Browning was a player the team could always count on.

“Andy was steady throughout the year and I could always count on him inside to play good defense and get rebounds,” he said. “At the end of the season he may not have scored as much as he wanted, but he always worked hard and he was a tough kid inside all year long.”

Browning said his greatest contribution to the team this season was his ability to be where he needed to be during the game.

“I always tried to be down low and do what I needed or help out and get guys open looks,” he said. “It feels good to be an honorable mention because I worked hard for four years, and especially this year.”

The Bulldogs went 3-3 down the stretch, including scoring a 78-56 upset victory over Glenwood Springs.

Hamilton said if the team had won a couple more games, the league would have honored more players.

Browning said the big finish is a great spot for the team to build on next season.

“We started to click at the end and we had some good chemistry going,” he said. “It would have been nice to be able to carry it into the playoffs, but we started to play a lot better and that was a big thing for our team.”

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