“I try to teach the kids fundamental, hard-nosed, team basketball, and they play with a lot of heart and passion. I think their willingness to win and their character is what sets them apart. While other teams may give up when they get down, we just kept getting better as a team and that is what makes a good ball club.”
— Chad Elliott, Moffat County boys eighth-grade youth basketball head coach, about his players’ drive to win.
Chad Elliott said when the Moffat County boys eighth-grade youth basketball team fell in the second round of Yampa Valley Classic on Sunday, the players never lost hope.
The Moffat County Youth Basketball program’s tournament, which consisted of more than 30 teams from the Western Slope, Utah and Wyoming, hosted group play Saturday and tournament play Sunday at Moffat County High School, Craig Middle School and Sandrock Elementary School.
The boys eighth-grade team beat Rifle in the opening round Sunday but fell, 48-37, against North Fork, an all-star team from Glenwood Springs.
However because the winner of the consolation bracket earned a chance to play the winner of the winner’s bracket, Elliott said he told the kids they could have a chance to avenge their loss.
“We were down to North Fork by 20 points at half, but we never gave up and we just ran out of time in our come back,” he said. “I told the kids if they played fundamental basketball and executed what we do in practice, they would get a second chance.”
The players did just that, beating three teams in the consolation bracket to find themselves in another match-up with North Fork for the championship.
This time Moffat County shut down North Fork’s offense en route to a 46-39 victory.
“We took care of the ball and attacked the goal,” Elliott said. “In the first game, (North Fork) was quick and we turned the ball over, but we were able to use a 2-3 zone against them that forced them to shoot from outside.
“It was a long road back, but we kept fighting until we were the champions.”
The road back wasn’t easy, Elliott said, as his team narrowly beat Rifle a second time, 50-47, and had to beat New Castle, a team his players had never beat.
But, Elliott said everyone gave it their all and played team ball.
“I try to teach the kids fundamental, hard-nosed, team basketball, and they play with a lot of heart and passion,” he said. “I think their willingness to win and their character is what sets them apart. While other teams may give up when they get down, we just kept getting better as a team and that is what makes a good ball club.”
The Moffat County girls eighth-grade and sixth-grade basketball teams took second in their respective tournaments while the girls seventh-grade team finished third.
Elliott said his team would head down to Glenwood this weekend and look to capitalize on their home-tournament victory.
“I tell the guys all the time we are a team and a family,” he said. “They have a drive to win, and the first player to the ninth player all do their parts to make sure that happens.”
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