Craig Middle School hoops completes season with weekend tourney
Steamboat 7th-, 8th-grade teams win; Craig finishes 3rd, 2nd
The most exciting sporting events are the ones where the crowd is on the edge of their seats until the final seconds, and the boys of Craig Middle School certainly had their spectators situated that way Saturday.
The season-ending district basketball tournament hosted by CMS this weekend concluded in a heartbreaker for the eighth-grade Bulldogs, as the A-team lost by a single point to rival Steamboat Springs. Craig did all they could in the last minute of play to come from behind, the score stuck at 24-23, but Sailor defense held strong to put CMS as the runner-up in the tourney.
Coach Justin Folley said the loss was a frustration after a 30-15 triumph against Meeker in the opening round. Playing both the first and last games of the set, the Bulldogs were given two hours of down time that slowed their momentum, whereas Steamboat came out fierce in the first quarter, gaining a nine-point lead before CMS even got the ball in the hoop.
“That first quarter killed us,” Folley said. “If we didn’t give up that many points at the beginning, it would’ve been a whole different ball game.”
Eighth-grader Connor Murphy said there were only two words on his mind as the third quarter began: “Get buckets.”
And, so they did, rallying hard in the second half to come back from their 17-7 deficit, showing the spirit and hustle they needed until it was a one-point game, and they just couldn’t close it, despite a promising turnover with four seconds remaining that could have won it for them.
“We scratched, we clawed all the way down, I thought we had it,” Folley said. “It was a good game, and the kids played extremely well.”
Steamboat’s seventh-grade A-team also claimed the championship while playing at Sandrock Elementary School, defeating Meeker, 34-19, the Cowboys having beaten the Bulldogs, 41-26, in the first round.
However, CMS came back hard against Rangely, 36-23, to finish the day in third place.
“I think the kids have improved a lot from the beginning of the year,” said seventh-grade coach Jason Buhrman, noting that the turnovers and poor shot choices that led to the loss against Meeker were things players took upon themselves to tweak in the second round.
Among the B-teams, the seventh-grade Bulldogs lost twice in a three-team round robin — 32-23 to Meeker, 36-15 against Steamboat — and the eighth-graders split their schedule with a 22-15 win against Meeker only to repeat the A-team’s results, also losing, 24-23, to Steamboat.
While the seventh-graders will have another year to work on their finesse, the eighth-graders who continue in the sport will have a new challenge once they reach Moffat County High School.
“I see this as a good learning opportunity for us,” Murphy said. “We can learn from this and go up (to the high school level) and do better.”
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