Moffat County High School girls basketball coach Matt Ray talks to the team at practice Tuesday in the gym. Moffat County is hosting regional games this weekend and are preparing in much the same way they have the second half of the season.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Moffat County High School girls basketball coach Matt Ray talks to the team at practice Tuesday in the gym. Moffat County is hosting regional games this weekend and are preparing in much the same way they have the second half of the season.

Moffat County High School basketball teams ready for regionals

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Moffat County boys basketball started off its practices with shooting all season. Heading into regional games in Brush this weekend, the Bulldogs are focusing on channeling their energy into their opponent instead of each other this week.

If you go...

What: Girls regional semifinal

Who: Moffat County vs. Jefferson Academy

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: MCHS gym

What: Boys regional semifinal

Who: Moffat County vs. The Classical Academy

When: 5 p.m. Friday

Where: Brush High School

— They may be churning on the inside, but on the outside Moffat County’s basketball teams are as cool as they’ve been all year.

Heading into the regional tournament and the first do-or-die weekend of the Class 3A high school basketball season, Bulldogs players and coaches are approaching Friday’s regional semifinals much like they did every other game of the season.

But for both teams, the practices have gotten a little bit easier and will stay that way leading into the weekend action. In many sports, practices switch focus from strength, conditioning and toughness at the beginning of the season to more analysis and execution later on.

Such has been the case for Moffat County girls and boys basketball.

“We’ve been tapering out practice since about two weeks after winter break,” girls head coach Matt Ray said Tuesday. “We were doing two hard hours (before break), now it’s down to an hour and a half and it’s not as tough. We don’t do nearly as much up-and-down (the court).”

Boys head coach Eric Hamilton said there is less physical play and more dissection of running an efficient offense and keeping the team’s shooting strong.

“We still try to go hard on drills but there’s a lot more discussion involved, a lot more free throws this time of year,” Hamilton said. “It’s definitely not as intense against each other. They’re tired of beating each other up.”

While both teams will face elimination games Friday and potentially Saturday, their practices look and feel the same way they have all season. That’s because both teams want to enter Friday with the same attitude that has worked all season.

“As always, we’re going to play to win,” Ray said. “It is one and done, but it’s like any other game. It’s probably in the back of (the players’) mind, but their goals are bigger than this one game.”

That’s where the similarities between the two end. The girls team is staying in Craig to play host to three other schools. The Lady Bulldogs take on Jefferson Academy on Friday, while the boys will travel across the state to Brush, a city east of Greeley and Fort Morgan, and play their first game against The Classical Academy, also on Friday.

Hamilton said the boys will travel to Brush on Thursday to avoid any hiccups Friday resulting from a long day in the bus.

“We’re happy that we’re able to do that,” he said. “Cause it is a long trip and we’d have needed to leave early (Friday).”

Regardless of the venue, opponent or stakes, both coaches and both teams are confident in what they’ve done to get to this point.

“Our goal is to get to the tournament next week,” Hamilton said. “I think these guys are really focused and ready to get there.”

“The bottom line is we’re a top-five team in the state,” said Ray, whose girls won the district tournament last weekend in Palisade. “We don’t care who we’re playing, if we play our game and how we’re capable, we can win.”

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

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