In an early-season clash, the eighth-grade basketball teams from Craig Middle School played two tight games against Meeker, splitting the results with the Cowboys on Tuesday night.
After a contest at Steamboat Springs Middle School on Saturday, the Bulldogs played their first home games of the season. The eighth-grade B team lost, 18-15, while the A team won, 36-32.
In the first game, CMS jumped out to an early 6-3 lead after a quarter, but then went ice cold from the floor. Despite creating good looks on offense, nothing was dropping for the Bulldogs, and they went into halftime with a 6-5 lead.
“We had a lot of opportunities, they just didn’t drop,” said coach Drew Turner.
In the second half, Meeker found its shooting touch while the Bulldogs continued to struggle. Late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys had a 17-12 lead, but Craig came back. After a made foul shot, Adain Wilmot stole the ball and dropped it in to cut the score to within a basket. Meeker would make one free throw at the line to make it a three-point game, but the Craig defense came up big again, forcing a turnover with just under 10 seconds left.
The ball went in to Wilmot, who created a decent look for himself from beyond the arc, but the potential game-tying shot fell bounced off the rim.
Turner hopes the shooting will improve, but he was pleased with the Bulldogs’ defense Tuesday.
“Our help side, picking up other guys was perfect,” he said. “I didn’t have one thing to say about the defense” after the game.
The A game didn’t start so well for the Bulldogs. They trailed 7-8 after a quarter but really started to fall behind in the second frame. Meeker’s dribble penetration and ability to get behind the Bulldogs on the break was problematic, as the Cowboys opened up a 20-13 lead at half.
“We’ve been working on our help side all year and we lost a little focus there,” coach Justin Folley said. “That No. 3 for Meeker, he can play, and he was really giving us some trouble.”
It also was an issue of shots not dropping in the first half for CMS, which changed after the intermission. The Bulldogs came out and cut the lead to one point, then fell back behind by five entering the fourth quarter.
Then they used a full-court press to speed up the game and create turnovers. It worked to perfection, as Craig made layups, which led to a rhythm offensively and some made jumpers, including a three from Brett Cook to make it 31-27 late in the game.
“At halftime I told them we have to keep shooting, just because you missed one in the first half doesn’t mean you stop,” Folley said. “We kept taking them and making shots in the second half, and that was a big difference.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.