Matt Hamilton breaks through Colorado Academy pressure in the first half of Thursday's 3A state quarterfinal game in Colorado Springs. Moffat County's boys held a lead for most of the game but surrendered it late to the Mustangs and lost, 67-62.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Matt Hamilton breaks through Colorado Academy pressure in the first half of Thursday's 3A state quarterfinal game in Colorado Springs. Moffat County's boys held a lead for most of the game but surrendered it late to the Mustangs and lost, 67-62.

Moffat County boys' state run ends in quarters

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After one impressive half of basketball Moffat County couldn’t hold onto its lead, coming up short in the quarterfinals of the 3A state tournament.

Playing at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs against Denver opponent Colorado Academy, the Bulldogs led by seven at halftime and were up 44-35 midway through the third quarter, but eventually succumbed to a Mustangs comeback, losing 67-62.

Boys scoring vs. Colorado Academy

Kort Hathhorn 28 points

Joe Camilletti 12

Matt Hamilton 6

Javen Gumber 5

Tyler Davis 3

Taft Cleverly 2

“It was a heck of a basketball game,” coach Eric Hamilton said afterward.

Kort Hathhorn scored 28 points to lead Moffat County but was matched by CA guard Jack Buckmelter’s 28. Moffat County mostly shut down CA’s leading scorer Justin Bassey, drawing three charges when he attacked the rim and holding the 20-point scorer to 13 in the game.

The Bulldogs played dominant offense in the first half, making five 3s and getting almost every shot in rhythm. In a game between two run-and-gun offenses, it was the Mustangs that chose to slow it down in the first half.

But midway through the third quarter the tides turned. With a nine-point lead Moffat’s didn’t look as smooth and began to have more difficulty scoring in the halfcourt. The Mustangs switched to a zone defense, which the Bulldogs beat easily in the first half, but weren’t as successful in the second.

“We quit attacking and didn’t move the ball as well,” Hamilton said. “We needed to push the ball, I thought, and we slowed down a bit.”

The Mustangs slowly chipped away at the lead before a 3 from Christian Hyatt pulled them within one and Buckmelter hit a layup after a missed layup from Moffat County to make it 60-59.

After a long possession on the other end Hathhorn buried a 3 to make it 62-60 with 45 seconds left, but the Mustangs quickly found junior guard Chris Kuelling in the corner and he sank a 3 in response.

“It was back and forth in the end there,” Hamilton said. “We hit some good buckets and so did they. Free throws were huge, and we had a couple charges (offensive fouls) that went their way.”

On the next possession Hathhorn found another open look but it bounced off the iron and forced Moffat County to foul after the rebound.

Trailing by three with 12 seconds left, Moffat County didn’t get a shot off, turning the ball over twice against pressure defense from CA.

The Mustangs moved on to the state semifinals while Moffat County’s championship portion of the season came to an end with a 20-5 record. The Bulldogs will play two more consolation games, with fifth place their highest possible finish.

“We’ve already talked about it,” Hamilton said. “They can’t let it ruin the whole experience of the Great 8. They’ve got a chance to win their last two games and finish fifth which would be huge.”

Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com.

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