CMS girls preparing for season |

CMS girls preparing for season

Freshman Javen Gumber contests the shot of a Gunnison player during Saturday's game in Gunnison. The Bulldogs defense stifled the Cowboys en route to a 61-51 win.
Joshua Gordon

Craig Middle School eighth-grader Katelyn Peroulis looks to pass the ball while being guarded by three CMS seventh graders Wednesday during open gym for the CMS girls basketball teams. Eighth-grade coach Candi Hellander said she is pushing fundamental skills hard during the school’s winter break.
Joshua Gordon

When it comes to Craig Middle School basketball, eighth-grade coach Candi Hellander said her main priority is to teach the girls fundamentals.

“Myself and the other coaches really push the fundamentals, hard and heavy,” Hellander said. “Sometimes the girls just want to play, and we have to keep them focused.”

Hellander, who has coached either the eighth-grade or seventh-grade team for three years, has hosted open gym sessions for the girls during winter break.

Although the teams have been officially practicing for two weeks, Hellander said she wants to keep her players concentrated on improving their passing, shooting and ability to get open.

“Last year, we only had five girls certain days,” she said. “This year, we are around 20 (girls), and that really shows their commitment this year.”

During the young teenage years, Hellander said the hardest part about coaching is players sometimes aren’t sure if they want to play basketball.

“That fact that many girls aren’t sure if they are serious about basketball makes it hard,” she said. “A handful may come in serious in the beginning, while the rest still have to learn the game completely.”

When practice resumes after the break, Hellander said she tries to teach the girls man-to-man defense instead of zone to correlate better with the defense the Moffat County High School girls basketball team runs.

“Man defense, I believe, teaches the girls more than zone defense,” she said. “They have to be in good shape to run man, so that is also a focus.”

To get in shape, the girls run suicides, wind sprints and conditioning drills with the ball.

Along with defense, Hellander said a big focus for the CMS girls basketball program is the communication with the MCHS teams.

“I have taken the girls to watch the (MCHS) teams practice so they can see what to expect,” she said. “The coaches also communicate well with us on what they expect the girls to know when entering the high school level.”

Leah Camilletti plays on the seventh-grade team, which consists of about 18 players.

Camilletti said she has been playing basketball since first grade and continues because it is “a lot of fun.”

“I like shooting, so that is what I practice on,” she said. “Our team needs to shoot to win, so I think it is important to work on.”

Katelyn Peroulis, a player on the eighth-grade team, said open gym helps the team get a feel for one another and be able to practice more together.

“I think playing as a team and winning are very important in basketball,” Peroulis said. “Open gyms helps us get there.”

Peroulis, who has been playing basketball since kindergarten, said before the season starts, the team still has a few things to work on.

“We need to focus more on defense,” she said. “We also need to work on getting open on offense so we can move the ball.”

Both teams will play their season opener at 4 p.m. Jan. 6 against Steamboat Springs.

The eighth-grade team will play at Craig Middle School, 915 Yampa Ave., while the seventh-grade team will play at Sandrock Elementary School, 201 East Ninth St.

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