Kasen Brennise drives through a sea of Rangely defenders Saturday at Craig Middle School. The Bulldogs put together their best game of the season and avenged a loss to the Panthers from earlier this season, winning, 41-28.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Kasen Brennise drives through a sea of Rangely defenders Saturday at Craig Middle School. The Bulldogs put together their best game of the season and avenged a loss to the Panthers from earlier this season, winning, 41-28.

Craig Middle School basketball looks good in wins against Rangely

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Torin Reed, right, defends a Rangely player during Craig's seventh-grade basketball game Saturday at Sandrock Elementary School. Reed and the Bulldogs won, 40-19.

— The eighth-grade basketball team from Craig Middle School put it all together on the court Saturday and came away with an impressive win.

The Bulldogs hosted Rangely, which beat them during their matchup in Rangely earlier this season. This time around, CMS avenged its loss and looked good doing it.

Craig executed on the offensive end as well as it ever has for the 41-28 win. The Bulldogs repeatedly attacked the basket and finished off high-percentage shots. They also scored layups on several in-bounds plays throughout the game and handled Rangely’s full-court press with ease when the Panthers tried to come back late in the game.

“I told them that was the best game I’ve seen them play in the two years I’ve had them,” coach Justin Folley said after the game. “They worked the ball down low, which is what we wanted to do. Our defense played great all game.”

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 15-2 lead midway through the second quarter before Rangely finally responded. The Panthers were able to tighten the game to 16-11 late in the half, but Craig got layups from Brent Cook and Cole White in the final 10 seconds to push its lead back out to nine.

From there, Rangely never got closer than seven points, as Craig’s combination of 2-3 zone in the half court defense with a full-court zone press gave the Panthers fits. In a season with lots of close-call losses, it was important to play a complete game like this one, Folley said.

“They needed that,” he said. “They needed to understand what they can do (as a basketball team). I wish it would have happened earlier in the season, but I’m glad it at least happened before the tournament started. If we play like that, we can beat anybody.”

Over in the Sandrock Elementary School gym, the seventh-grade teams also picked up wins. The A team used its press to frustrate Rangely and break the game open in the first half.

It was 10-3 after a quarter and 26-8 at halftime, as the Bulldogs have been clicking, especially on defense, in recent weeks.

“They’re understanding where they gotta be, and that’s leading to good things for us,” head coach Jason Buhrman said. “We still have a bit of a matchup problem sometimes with guys not knowing who to guard, but they play hard on defense all the time, and that’s big.”

In the second half with the big lead, the Bulldogs backed off and experimented with a 3-2 zone defense for the first time this year. Rangely hit some jump shots to close the gap but never threatened to come all the way back. Craig won, 40-19.

“We wanted to see how (the zone) would work,” Burhman said. “They’ve got the one kid who can shoot the lights out, so we had to adjust a little bit, but I liked what they did today.”

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

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