After a string of wins, including a thrilling come-from-behind victory last week, the Craig Middle School seventh graders’ winning streak came to a halt Saturday.
The seventh-grade team recently had enjoyed comfortable wins against Hayden, Soroco and Meeker and a close win against Little Snake River Valley School. During that stretch, they also lost a 21-13 game in early November against Rangely Middle School’s A team at Sandrock Elementary School.
The Bulldogs had a chance at redemption Saturday when they visited Rangely. While the games played out differently, the end results were the same.
Rangely is one of a couple teams in the league that sports enough players for an A and B team, meaning every Craig player can get into a game and get experience. Last time CMS and Rangely met, the Bulldogs' A group lost, but the B team won.
The B team again was triumphant, finishing with a 16-13 final. In the low-scoring affair, coach Justin Folley said it was the team’s best defensive performance of the season.
“The B team, they worked well today,” Folley said. “They definitely communicated better on the defensive side. The defense was really good. Those kids ran around and caused more grief than I’ve seen them do in a long time.”
In the A game, it looked at first like the Bulldogs were on their way to a win. Utilizing a new defensive scheme, a 1-3-1 zone, they took an early lead.
But it was not meant to be. Rangely sports a pair of very skilled players, Folley said, and they took over as the game wore on, producing a 46-35 win.
“Our kids came out hot, they were making shots,” he said. “We put in a new defense this week and they ran it pretty well, then Rangely’s got a couple kids who can just flat-out play and they definitely beat us on the boards.”
The 1-3-1 defense was designed specifically to counter Rangely’s style of play, Folley said, and it worked for a while.
“For seventh grade, (a 1-3-1) can be difficult because there’s a lot of empty space to fill,” he said. “Early in the game, we did it great. But later on, the more exhausted these kids got, they left some holes open where Rangely beat us.”
Come district tournament time Dec. 1, the Bulldogs’ success may hinge on their improvement in that defensive set. The team has beaten Steamboat Springs and Meeker — the other teams to play at districts — but still is seeking a win against Rangely.
“We’ve beat everybody at least once except Rangely,” Folley said. “They’ve kind of had our number this year.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.