Moffat County sophomore Matt Hamilton prepares to attempt a dunk at the end of Moffat County's 55-46 win over Gunnison Saturday at Moffat County High School. The Bulldogs improved to 13-1 this season, and 10-1 in the Western Slope League.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Moffat County sophomore Matt Hamilton prepares to attempt a dunk at the end of Moffat County's 55-46 win over Gunnison Saturday at Moffat County High School. The Bulldogs improved to 13-1 this season, and 10-1 in the Western Slope League.

Bulldogs boys basketball closes out Gunnison at home

Upcoming varsity basketball games...

3:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at Basalt

7 p.m. Feb. 12 at Aspen

7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at Cedaredge

3:30 p.m. Feb. 16 vs. Roaring Fork

7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 vs. Coal Ridge

In the final minute of Saturday’s boys basketball game in Craig, Tyler Hildebrandt was singled out by Gunnison as the best option to foul in a close game.

The Moffat County senior made the Cowboys pay for choosing him, sinking three of four foul shots on consecutive trips to push the basketball game in Craig out of reach. Moffat County would close out Gunnison a few possessions later, 55-46.

The Bulldogs looked sharp in their return the MCHS gym Saturday, at least for a half. They took a 19-11 lead after one quarter, helped by 11 points and three 3-pointers from sophomore Tyler Davis. With pressure defense and good shooting, the Bulldogs had an 11-point halftime lead.

“I thought we came out and had a heck of a first quarter,” coach Eric Hamilton said. “For some reason, these guys have gotten used to getting quick leads and we haven’t figured out how to build on them.

“That’s something I’ve got to look at and something the players need to look at. Maybe between all of us, we can figure it out.”

For much of the second half, Moffat County seemed to be in control, but its lead dwindled during the course of the final two quarters. Late in the fourth, Gunnison pulled to within four points and had a chance to make it closer on one possession.

The Cowboys did not score and elected to foul Hildebrandt after avoiding fouling Moffat County’s guards. The Bulldogs’ center stepped to the line and knocked down the front end of a one-and-one, then hit both free throws the following possession.

It was the second straight weekend Hildebrandt helped ice a close game. He hit foul shots late in the game against Grand Valley last Saturday, as well.

“Hildy’s been shooting good free throws and stepped up there and hit them,” Hamilton said. “So that’s good. But we’ve got to play hard for 32 minutes.”

In several games this season, the Bulldogs (13-1, 10-1 Western Slope League) have taken big leads in the first half and then stepped off the gas in the second. Hamilton wants to see that stop as the team nears postseason play.

“We lost our fire there in the second half,” he said. “The intensity level went way down, it seemed like. We’ve got to play the next five games and get better, get ready for playoff basketball. We’re not there yet.”

Moffat County remains a game behind Roaring Fork in the Western Slope League. It will play the next three games on the road before returning to Craig on Feb. 16.

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com.

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