The Moffat County boys basketball team completed its summer last week, capping off a busy month of basketball with 10 games at Colorado Mesa University.
The Bulldogs will have high expectations for its 2013-14 season, including a deep run in the 3A state tournament. After nearly 30 games this summer, they feel on their way.
The boys team played in three camps, first in Denver and then at Gunnison at the end of June before finishing up at Mesa last week. The varsity team finished its summer season with a 19-8 record, and junior varsity, which only attended the final two camps, went 12-5 overall.
“I’m really pleased with everybody’s effort during the summer,” said coach Eric Hamilton. “I’m sure now they’ll put some time in individually, and a lot of them are playing football. These guys are really hungry for basketball, though.”
Moffat County played teams from all classifications from Colorado and other states, so they saw a little bit of every style of play. The varsity players were a bit shorthanded without guard Tyler Davis, who suffered a shoulder injury at the first camp, but they stepped up anyway.
“We had a great camp at Mesa,” Hamilton said. “We went 5-5, and the competition was really tough down there. The guys played a lot of basketball. We didn’t have huge numbers, so our guys were playing games with just six guys. That’s tough physically and mentally.”
Having a short bench can be a problem in summer basketball because teams typically play three games in a day, so fatigue becomes a factor. Moffat County’s players were wiped out, but it wasn’t a factor in their play, incoming junior Matt Hamilton said.
“Playing that many games with six or seven guys only is a lot, but it helped our conditioning,” he said. “We were tired, yeah, but we can play through it.”
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of traveling together and playing so many games was the ability to get closer as a team. While many of Moffat County’s starters will return for their third-straight year of playing together, the Bulldogs also will rely on younger players to contribute this year.
Incoming sophomores Javen Gumber and Kort Hathhorn saw their roles on the team expand near the end of the season last year, but this summer has given them a chance to develop their games and a rapport with their teammates.
“Kort and Javen are going to be a big part of the team for sure,” Matt Hamilton said. “Javen’s going to be a powerhouse. The younger guys all played well. Kody (Fief) played for us and hit some crucial threes in tournament games.”
Seeing different styles and teams at different levels is something coach Hamilton thinks will be a major benefit when the season begins.
“I don’t think any particular teams gave us more trouble than others, we just played some really good teams that matched our intensity,” he said. “That was good for us to see it, because I don’t think our 3A league will match that very much this year.”
Now it becomes a waiting game for the boys basketball team. They may schedule a scrimmage with Steamboat Springs if they two schools can make it work, but otherwise the summer team activities are done. Matt Hamilton thinks it was a productive several weeks for the team, though.
“I think the team got closer, definitely,” he said. “Team bonding was there, we started playing together more as a team. I’m feeling really comfortable (with my teammates) and overall, I think we got better from start to finish.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org