Craig Middle School basketball season blasts off in strong games with Steamboat |

Craig Middle School basketball season blasts off in strong games with Steamboat

With three wins and one narrow loss to their biggest rivals, Craig Middle School boys basketball teams had their share of learning experiences Tuesday afternoon.

CMS’s first home hoops games were full of energy to be sure, with solid play against Steamboat Springs.

In the Sandrock Elementary gym, the seventh-grade Bulldogs schooled the Sailors starting with a 32-21 win for the B-Team, complemented by a much closer 26-24 W for the A-Team.

CMS led by six points going into the final minute only for turnovers to get the Sailors within a one-bucket game. Still, Craig’s presence at the rim was what helped secure the victory, coach Mark Carlson said.

“We really squeaked it out. About four offensive rebounds just in the last 15 seconds,” he said.

He added that an off night at the free throw line — two for 15 — was an indicator of where to improve against competitive teams.

In an early season tournament in Rangely, the seventh-grade A-Team bested Hayden 57-10 and Meeker 47-12 to set a good tone for the schedule.

“The big thing is just fundamentals: rebound, box out, proper shooting form, tough defense without fouling, push the ball every chance we get,” Carlson said. “We’ve got an athletic team that likes to run.”

In the CMS gym, the eighth-grade B-Team blew out Steamboat’s second tier 39-5 for the largest margin of the evening, while the Bulldog and Sailor A-Teams kept things much closer.

After trailing much of the first half, CMS took a sudden lead as Marcus Pech threw in a three-pointer from well beyond the arc to beat the buzzer and make it 13-11 at halftime.

It was anyone’s game in the final period, but a successful half-court press by Steamboat saw them take away the ball again and again to get a comfortable advantage over Craig, the win ultimately going to the Sailors at 29-24.

“We had some poor passing, and Steamboat really did a good job with their pressure,” said CMS coach Steve Maneotis. “We didn’t have a great week of practice, and I told them, you practice like you play and there’s the end result.”

The first loss of the season served as a “good learning curve,” he added, especially given their dominating performance at the Rangely tourney, beating Hayden 53-12 and the hosting Panthers 53-18.

“You come out of that thinking you’re Superman, and you kind of need the ‘S’ knocked off your chest,” Maneotis said. “We made a lot of mistakes, and most of that’s on me. We’ll fix them.”

CMS teams will play a triangular this weekend in Steamboat against the Sailors and Meeker. Nov. 9 is a tournament hosted by Soroco, and the next day will be Craig’s home tourney, bringing in Steamboat, Meeker, Hayden and West Grand.

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