Kort Hathhorn elevates during warmups at an open gym at Moffat County High School this week. Hathhorn is an incoming sophomore and one of a large group of returning players who will compete for playing time this summer.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Kort Hathhorn elevates during warmups at an open gym at Moffat County High School this week. Hathhorn is an incoming sophomore and one of a large group of returning players who will compete for playing time this summer.

Bulldogs competing for spots this summer

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Friday signaled the beginning of the basketball season for the Moffat County High School boys team, and the start of what the Bulldogs plan on making a memorable year.

The Bulldogs took a team to the Gold Crown Basketball Camp in Denver Thursday through Saturday to tip off their summer season, which will include nearly 30 games against a variety of competition from inside and outside Colorado.

After a 19-5 season in 2012-13 that saw them make a trip to the Sweet 16 of the 3A state tournament, expectations will be high for a team that returns the bulk of its scoring, along with young players who played bigger roles as the season went on.

So the Bulldogs know they will have the opportunity to improve upon last year’s results, but they also understand it begins in the summer.

“I think summer ball is way more important than it ever used to be because people are playing so much,” said Head Coach Eric Hamilton. “If you don’t get in the gym and have your team working on skill and playing together, you’re just falling behind everybody else.”

But the competitive group of players is not backing down from the challenge. Instead, they are pushing each other in the weight room and in open gyms to be better.

“Everybody on the team loves the high expectations,” said Taft Cleverly, the team’s only returning senior. “Everybody loves the pressure, we’re ready to take it on and be able to play with the best competition.”

Moffat County will send varsity and JV teams to two other camps after Gold Crown this summer, at Western State June 27 through 29 and Colorado Mesa University July 8 through 11. Between the three camps, they will see a variety of teams, from 5A schools in Colorado to large schools from outside the state. Hamilton is excited to see the different play styles.

“Our first six games, five of them are against teams from out of state,” Hamilton said. “That’s pretty exciting when you get to see all kinds of different talent and physicality.”

The Bulldogs will want to win as many games as they can during the summer, but that is not what Hamilton will be looking for to gauge their success.

“It’s not so much winning a lot of games, but having these guys compete and keep getting a better feel for each other,” he said. “We just need to be competitive with big schools and get a groove going for the season.”

Despite four of the team’s five starters returning from last year, the coach says every spot is up for grabs with the talent pool available to Moffat County in the coming year. He believes it will be a benefit throughout the summer for the Bulldogs.

So does Cleverly, who has liked seeing his teammates come out in numbers to open gyms at the high school.

“We’ve got a lot of guys showing up with a good work ethic,” Cleverly said. “That will help us play well and get ready for the season.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com

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