Craig Middle School hoops looks to keep undefeated season alive at districts
In a swift season, Craig Middle School boys basketball has had minimal game time on their own court, though their last stop before the final week of competition had many minutes of home advantage jammed into one day.
CMS hoops players went into the Thanksgiving break with many triumphs as part of their basketball tournament Friday as Rifle, Rangely, Soroco, Summit and Meeker came to play.
Craig athletes started with morning games before heading back to class as visiting teams mixed it up amongst each other at CMS before the hosts were back on the court, with afternoon games at Sandrock Elementary School as well.
Seventh-graders on the 4-5 C-Team and 8-2 D-Team won two of their three total games — with the final D-Team game canceled — as C-Team’s morning overtime loss to Meeker inspired them to take a 23-9 win over Rangely.
A slow beginning of only two points in the first quarter saw the Bulldogs get stronger from there, said Sam Langel, who coaches with Kyle McQuiggan.
“We started off and offense wasn’t there, but we played great defense. That’s what we’ve been working on all week,” Langel said. “Seeing how much they’ve improved has been awesome. I can see the improvement every day.”
CMS’s Wyatt Tucker said he expects the Bulldogs could have scored a bit more against the Panthers, though a running clock format made for much shorter games.
“We get more experience at one time. You can learn more that way,” he said.
Following a 34-27 morning win over Summit, CMS’s eighth-grade A-Team looked to maintain the undefeated season they’ve built so far.
However, struggling with shooting for three quarters against Rifle put them well behind the Cubs until the final period. Layups, jumpers and free throws started falling the way they should have, pushing the Bulldogs to a 22-17 win.
“In the second half, we just woke up and wanted to make a comeback,” Hudson Jones said.
After a W over Meeker earlier in the day, a much closer game for the eighth-grade B-Team against Soroco made up the final match of the tourney, with the Bulldogs and the Rams heading into overtime. Soroco eventually won 15-14 with the tourney’s running clock allowing a single foul shot to give Rams the victory.
The tournament format allowed for a fast-paced day that forced players to buckle down.
“They played hard, a lot of kids got a lot of playing time, and they learned a lot. That’s what we want to see,” said Derek Duran who coaches the eighth-graders with John Hoit. “Good defense, quick quarters. We saw good competition. That’s what these kids needed was to be pushed. When they work hard, good things happen.”
Following the holiday hiatus, seventh-graders attend the district tournament Dec. 6 in Rangely, while eighth-graders hit the tourney Dec. 7 in Steamboat Springs.
Duran noted that his players are well on their way to high school hoops.
“It goes quick, but they’ve worked hard,” he said. “They’re excited to see some different teams, and if they work hard, they’ll be successful.”