Bulldog Beat: Moffat County hoopsters topple Titans; wrestlers dominate duals; hockey sees scoring spree | CraigDailyPress.com

Bulldog Beat: Moffat County hoopsters topple Titans; wrestlers dominate duals; hockey sees scoring spree

Andy Bockelman
For the Craig Press

The Moffat County High School gym has been hopping for the past week with plentiful victories.

Moffat County High School girls basketball player Caitlyn Adams sizes up a drive during a game against Grand Junction.
Andy Bockelman / For the Craig Press

Relishing a rematch

Bulldog girls basketball proved how well they could shake off past defeats with a statement win to start 3A Western Slope League play.

The beginning to the MCHS girls’ conference schedule was a Jan. 20 grudge match with the Coal Ridge Titans that the Dogs won 44-31.

Compared to their previous meeting back in December at the Glenwood Springs Demon Invite, when the Titans ran the floor to run away with a 51-37 W, MoCo players showed their true capabilities in a match they led for its entirety.

With a 17-7 first quarter in the Dogs’ favor, Coal Ridge made their play to catch up late in the opening half wiith a buzzer-beater three-pointer to get within reach at 22-19 heading into the locker room. However, the closest they’d come was a one-point margin at 22-21, as MoCo stayed stalwart throughout the second half.

“I thought our defense really locked in and really forced them to play on the perimeter,” head coach Eric Hamilton said. “Offensively, we took care of the ball and worked it for great shots.”

Senior Rylie Felten led in scoring with 19 points, followed by Halle Hamilton with 13. Though she was somewhat quiet on offense, junior Lizzy LeWarne earned 17 rebounds, 10 on defense, while senior Jacie Evenson claimed four steals.

MCHS girls were coming off a 54-24 road win over Summit earlier in the week, in which Felten put up 15 points, and sophomore Emma Tucker had 10. Tucker combined with Halle Hamilton and Reese Weber for five total three-pointers that night.

“Summit was actually pretty good because they were so scrappy, they went for every single ball,” Weber said. “They would have been really tough if we hadn’t been on our game.”

The MoCo girls’ win streak moved to four straight Monday night as they took on another 4A Tiger team, this one from Grand Junction, ending the evening early with a running clock result as they trounced the visitors 59-11.

With a lead of 36-6 at halftime, the Bulldog bench saw lots of rotation as the full roster hit the court.

In her first varsity game, freshman Caitlyn Adams hit two jump shots in the closing moments. After picking up 21 points in the earlier junior varsity event — Bulldog JV won 58-23 and C-Team came out ahead 47-20 — she was ready for the challenge.

“It’s a lot more intense, a lot faster,” Adams said of the top tier.

MCHS girls will host another non-league team this week, facing off against Montrose with games starting at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Moffat County High School boys basketball player Logan Hafey launches skyward for a shot during a game against Coal Ridge.
Andy Bockelman / For the Craig Press

Tight game with the Titans

While MoCo girls trailed at no point during their last two games, Bulldog boys had to fight it out to earn a win against Coal Ridge in an energetic exhibition of their talent.

The MCHS boys’ 16-5 opening period against the Titans was a showcase of skills on either side of the floor, but Coal Ridge kept it more even in the second quarter to make 26-22 at the horn.

“Last year when we went to Coal Ridge, they kind of came out with a lot of energy and punched us in the mouth,” said boys head coach Mark Carlson. “We knew their speed and we had to match their energy to start the game. That’s what carried us.”

After electrifying the crowd with a dunk early in the game, senior Nick Crookston threw it down again in the third quarter to the same effect.

“It was exhilarating — epic,” Crookston said.

Besides his teammates setting him up perfectly in the post, he added that he fed off the cheering.

“It’s always great when we have the student section, because we play with all our hearts,” Crookston said.

The MoCo mojo maintained the Bulldogs, even as the Titans started to get in a scoring groove with the scoreboard largely even, but a corner triple by sophomore Hudson Jones to close the period saw them back in the lead at 40-39 heading into the last eight minutes.

Apart from a brief tie-up at 50-all in the fourth quarter, the Dogs stayed just far enough ahead, with a failed last-second outside shot by the Titans ending the night 61-58, MoCo.

Seniors led in scoring, with Logan Hafey taking 13 points, and Crookston and Jordan Carlson notching 10 each.

Aside from his starters’ effort, coach Carlson credited his reserves for keeping things going, including Jones, Marcos Romero, and Johnny Lopez.

“Hudson came in and made that huge 3 that put us up, but one of the things that won us the game was Johnny’s effort,” Carlson said. “His defense and the way he ran the floor and finished around the rim was fantastic. He hasn’t gotten a ton of varsity minutes, but he will now.”

The boys lineup has been in fluctuation lately; among other shifts, starter Ian Hafey is done for the season after a foot injury during the Dogs’ game with Middle Park.

“The biggest thing is these boys came out tonight and overcame adversity with us being down two starters,” coach Carlson said. “These boys came together, and everyone I put on the floor battled. They played for each other and played with heart. You can’t ask for more than that.”

MCHS teams — boys 7-4, girls 7-5 — will pick up league play this weekend with Saturday games in Delta.

Moffat County High School wrestler Billy Lawton celebrates a pin.
Andy Bockelman / For the Craig Press

Dualing Dogs

Though their recent competitions have been smaller in scale, MCHS wrestlers have put out maximum effort.

MoCo grapplers earned wins in five dual meets in the past week, defeating Rifle, Meeker, Steamboat Springs, Coal Ridge and Palisade.

The Dogs hosted Rifle and Meeker Jan. 18, besting the Bears 70-0 and going completely undefeated in varsity and JV bouts. While Moffat County took a good amount of points via forfeit thanks to Rifle’s meager roster, Eli Fredrickson earned a 13-4 major decision for a victory in the 132-pound weight class.

Likewise, Colt Call (113), Kaden Hixson (120), Anthony Duran (126), Caden Call (138), Pepper Rhyne (170), and Billy Lawton (182) all took varsity wins by fall, as did Cyrus Goldsmith and Alex Musgrave, both at the 170 level in JV matches.

With each pin, teammates passed around a golden chain to celebrate the definitive win, a new tradition coach Tyler Seislove said he hopes to keep going.

“We saw a team at Arvada from Pennsylvania that did that, so we wanted to do something similar,” Seislove said. “It keeps them motivated and having fun.”

The Dogs kept the night going their way in a 48-27 dual with Meeker, with the Cowboys getting no contest in the 220 and heavyweight classes, as well as falls at the 106 and 132 weights, and a 7-4 decision at 152.

Still, Colt Call, Caden Call, Kalub West (145), Michael Voloshin (160), Lawton, and Blake Hill all got their hands on the pin chain.

Lawton noted he especially took pride in pinning Meeker’s Teagan Sheridan given recent events.

“That kid beat me at TOC (Tournament of Champions) two weeks ago, so I really wanted to beat him this time. It was kind of a pride thing for me,” he said. “That was a goal I set when I lost to him.”

Rhyne’s match ended earlier due to a Cowboy injury, while Hixson won his bout 11-7, and Anthony Duran 10-5.

“To be honest, I don’t think the score indicates how close some of those matches were. There were one or two that could have gone either way, but we still came out on top,” Seislove said. “Last year, Meeker beat us twice, so we wanted to come out and prove something to ourselves. Close matches is what makes a rivalry fun.”

After being at home, the Bulldogs continued their strong performance with a Thursday triangular in Steamboat, beating the Sailors 70-0 and Coal Ridge 61-12.

Colt Call, Noah Duran (120), Anthony Duran, Caden Call, West, Ryan Duzik (152), Voloshin, Rhyne, and Lawton all got pins of Steamboat opponents, with Fredrickson giving up no points in a 12-0 MD. A pair of forfeits got the Titans on the board, but falls for Fredrickson, Caden Call, West and Duzik were complemented by a 13-2 major for Noah Duran and a 2-0 decision for Anthony Duran.

A Friday night dual in Palisade was a faceoff between two Bulldog teams, as the boys in blue won it 48-25. Besides a lot of forfeits, Colt Call, West, Duzik, Musgrave, and Voloshin each took the pin, with Lawton winning his match 4-0.

“We’ve got a lot of guys here who have a good chance at making it to state this year, so I hope all of us start to peak at the right time,” Lawton said of the coming weeks.

While MoCo boys wrestlers had Saturday off, their female compatriots were attending the Loveland Girls Invitational as part of the Soroco girls team.

At the 136 weight, Hannah Frink went 1-2 with one pin, while Makaela Simpson drilled through the 185 bracket with three consecutive pins to finish in first place.

MCHS will travel to a triangular between Basalt and Grand Valley this Thursday before heading to this weekend’s DPI Tournament, hosted by Berthoud.

Wrestlers will host their final home event Feb. 3 with a dual meet against Glenwood Springs that will also serve as Senior Night.

Hard-hitting hockey

It may not have counted for league credit, but the past weekend was the kind of energizer Moffat County Bulldog hockey needed.

The 18 and under team for Craig Youth Hockey Association was unstoppable during a weekend series in Vernal, Utah, taking back-to-back wins of 10-0 and 14-2.

The squad was generous with the puck, as no one player scored more than twice in the blowout victories.

“We kind of blew them out of the water,” said coach Steven Wagner. “Pretty much my whole first and second line scored, third line scored. Almost everybody got at least one.”

The Bulldogs’ success in Utah follows a more contested event, with Jan. 22 and 23 being the days of their Jamboree tourney at Moffat County Ice Arena.

A round robin format — including MoCo, Steamboat, Lafayette and Rock Springs, Wyoming — provided ample competition for Moffat skaters, with a 4-2 loss to Steamboat and a 2-0 defeat in their rematch with Lafayette.

However, the weekend ended with a 4-2 win over Rock Springs by the Dogs.

As Moffat County players and coaches look forward to potential postseason matches in the next month, they will face off with multiple Littleton teams this weekend on the road, as well as playing Feb. 6 in Fort Collins.

On Feb. 12, the Bulldogs will host Vernal for games at 11:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m., celebrating Senior Night.

Wagner noted that he’s seeing a more confident group, one he hopes will be able to extend the schedule a bit.

“We’re not sure about playoffs yet, but the team’s really starting to play well together, so if we can get some wins with these next couple games, we’ll see where we stand after that,” he said. “If they keep the teamwork up and play the way they did in Vernal, we can beat almost anybody.”

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