Ruin the Bruins: Moffat County hoopsters crush Cedaredge
It may have been the visiting school that boasted the ursine team name, but it was Moffat County High School athletes who were giving their latest opponents a bear of a time Saturday.
MCHS varsity teams swept the Cedaredge Bruins in a pair of big wins, as girls picked up their fourth consecutive victory against a 3A Western Slope League foe at 52-33 while boys put an end to their run of bad luck with a hard-fought 57-32 triumph.
Grin and bear it
After a narrow victory the night before, MCHS girls had another team within the Top 10 of the 3A RPI rankings on their hands.
Perhaps it was the extra boost from the win over Grand Valley, but Lady Bulldogs wasted no time racking up a 7-0 lead, with the Bruins prevented from gaining a bucket until nearly five minutes into the game.
MoCo’s quick start only get better, finishing the quarter 13-5, heading into an all but unstoppable second period in which they compiled 15 straight points, five of which came off a Kinlie Brennise corner triple that, thanks to a Cedaredge foul, put her back at the charity stripe for a pair of free throws.
MCHS girls coach Jim Loughran said he was surprised by Cedaredge’s slow entry, though he was far from shocked that his players made the most of it.
“They really put a lot of pressure on them,” he said.
The 35-16 opening half gave way to a slower but solid third quarter as Brennise and Halle Hamilton kept after it in three-pointers with Quinn Pinnt and Jenna Timmer nailing buckets closer to the hoop in the 11-7 stretch.
With the game just about won, Bulldog girls chewed the clock in the last minutes while limiting the Bruins to another 10 points.
Hamilton led in scoring with 14 points and a trio of threes, with 11 for Brennise, and six for Tiffany Hildebrandt.
“I don’t know if Cedaredge didn’t bring it or it’s just because we were working well together, but we were ready for them,” Hamilton said.
Bull(dog) market for buckets
While both MCHS junior varsity teams fell in close games to the Bruins — girls JV in a 34-32 overtime heartbreaker and boys JV 50-46 — boys varsity took a page from the girls’ playbook and did them one better.
Between attacking the hoop from the get-go and shutting down the Cedaredge effort, Bulldog boys held a double-digit advantage with 12 points on the board before the Bruins finally responded after more than six minutes.
A 14-7 quarter became a 32-15 half, with a fully energized crowd all the more spirited thanks to the halftime entertainment by the Moffat County Junior Cheer Clinic, with 57 young kids joining the MCHS and Craig Middle School pep squads.
MoCo boys didn’t slow down in the slightest coming back from the locker room, renewing their resolve near the rim with layups and jumpers galore in another 18-point quarter.
Like the girls, boys didn’t strain themselves coasting to the conclusion, though Jerod Chacon took advantage of a chance for some shooting practice to add a corner three and get his scoring total to 11 points, tied with Colby Beaver for the evening, followed by Landen Najera with 10.
Connor Murphy mixed it up with one triple and layups for his seven points, though he credited the night’s success to the group effort.
“It all came down to teamwork, everybody did really great tonight,” he said. “Everybody brought a lot of heart, clicking tonight.”
Connor Etzler concurred the crowd was a huge part of the win.
“All that positive energy in the building pushed us, helped us play a lot better,” he said. “It was really loud.”
By the numbers
The W was one the boys varsity team has been striving toward for the past month. A win in December against Denver Christian during Glenwood Springs’ Demon Invitational was the last game Bulldogs recorded in the left column, feeling the effects of eight consecutive losses.
Now 3-10, MoCo boys have a conference victory under their belts, 1-3 in WSL play, which they will seek to build on moving along in the schedule, next hosting Basalt Jan. 26.
The Longhorns have had the roughest run in the league, 2-10 after a 67-48 Saturday loss to Gunnison. Before they come to Craig, they’ll face off with Cedaredge Friday.
“You never know with this league, everything can be pretty inconsistent,” Murphy said, noting that after high rankings for much of the early season, WSL’s Coal Ridge has already fallen twice this month to league opponents.
MCHS girls will see their RPI status rise considerably after their win, and at 4-0 in the conference, the 10-3 team remains one of the Western Slope’s greatest threats.
Basalt (1-11) will be the focus heading into the coming week of practice, but the bigger picture is Delta, which the Lady Dogs host Feb. 1.
The Panthers moved to 10-1 with a Jan. 18 win against Coal Ridge, 52-49, putting them at the top of the RPI list.
Still, athletes are confident moving forward.
“I’m really impressed with our teamwork and how we’ve all come together lately,” Hamilton said.