CMS boys basketball team earns district titles | CraigDailyPress.com

CMS boys basketball team earns district titles

Players and coaches with the Craig Middle School eighth-grade A-Team hoist their district trophy. Three of the four CMS boys basketball teams won at the tournament, hosted in Steamboat Springs.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A season that's seen many big wins and only the occasional defeat was capped off Saturday as Craig Middle School boys basketball teams hit the district tournament hard.

CMS boys won three of the four championship games hosted in Steamboat Springs, with both Bulldog eighth-grade teams and seventh-grade B-Team coming away with top honors.

Both seventh-grade groups breezed through their first game, each playing Meeker. A-Team won 40-36, and B-Team won 38-11.

And, while B-Team had no trouble defeating Steamboat 27-14 in the title game, the A-Team, also facing off with the Sailors, struggled in the second half.

Coming out of halftime ahead 15-12, the Bulldogs couldn't stop a Steamboat run in the third quarter, ultimately falling 43-22 to place second, with a 10-5 record.

Coach Ben Egger said it's been a solid year, with each win and loss a learning experience.

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"They came in very raw, a lot of players new to basketball, and by the end of it, they looked amazing," he said. "Their work ethic is amazing, and I have no doubt they'll continue to get better and continue to succeed in the future."

The eighth-grade B-Team's path to the championship didn't prove to be much of a challenge, as the Dogs overtook Steamboat 35-18 in the first round and topped Meeker in the final game 33-20.

For the A-Team, the day began with a 48-10 stomping of Rangely.

Then came one of the tightest moments of the season, with the Sailors leading their rivals 16-12 going into the second half of the title event.

Little by little, CMS came within one point — 22-21 — as the third quarter ended, but it was in the final period that the game turned around, as the Dogs limited the Sailors to only four points, and Thayne Kitchen picked up 10 of his 21 points, including a hard-fought basket through a foul that also resulted in a free throw.

"Getting that and-one may have been the best play of his career," coach Forrest Watson said of Kitchen. "We were struggling on offense at first, but they really came out and played after that. They really got aggressive on the ball. We had the same guys playing the whole fourth quarter, and they didn't quit."

This is the second consecutive year Watson has coached the team, and both years ended with a district trophy. This season's record was 14-1.

"I think these boys will bring a lot to the high school program in the future," he said. "I really look forward to what they can do."