Craig Middle School hoops season starts in style |

Craig Middle School hoops season starts in style

8th-grade boys 8-0 after Tuesday win against Meeker

Craig Middle School seventh-graders Tyler Fortune, left, and Jeremiah Ziegler provide defensive pressure during the Bulldogs' Tuesday games against Meeker in the Sandrock Elementary School gym. The seventh-grade A-team won, 19-15, while B-team lost, 39-8.
Andy Bockelman

Few things are better for an athlete than scoring the game-winning point in their sport. Craig Middle School eighth-grader Colby Beaver not only accomplished that this week but by doing so, was able to keep his team on their current hot streak.

The CMS seventh- and eighth-grade teams have found a great deal of victories between them, most recently in home games Tuesday, hosting Meeker.

The seventh-grade B-team started off with a rough loss of 39-8 to the Cowboys, still an improvement over the last time the teams met, pointed out coach Jason Buhrman.

“Last time I think it was 40-2, so they’re getting closer,” he said.

Buhrman shook up his offensive strategy as the A-team went onto the floor, keeping possession longer and countering Meeker’s zone defense that had previously caused double-digit Bulldog losses.

The result was a 19-15 win.

“Just to see them come back and win and make a lot of progress was great,” Buhrman said.

Buhrman’s A-team is 4-3 and the B-team 3-4 so far this season, which has already seen some difficulties with injuries, academic issues and seasonal ailments, explaining why only six on the roster could play in the A game.

Still, Buhrman and assistant coach Marco Cuevas have been able to impart the fundamentals to a team that’s willing to work hard, learn and hustle in their first year playing school sports.

“With their heart, and their resilience, I’m just lucky to coach such a great group of guys,” Buhrman said.

Buhrman also coached last year’s seventh-grade teams, players who have only gotten better upon getting older. The eighth-grade squads, overseen by Justin Folley and Drew Turner, also took on Meeker on Tuesday, seeing a variety of results.

After the C-team’s 17-8 loss, the B-team ran circles around the Cowboys, coming up with a 33-17 triumph.

It was the A-team’s closing match of the night that proved most interesting when the so far undefeated group struggled to find their footing, trailing Meeker for the first three quarters.

“Meeker played extremely well, and defensively they held their own,” Folley said. “They kept it competitive the whole game.”

Something clicked in the final minutes, Folley said, and suddenly, CMS’s 11-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter was minimized as the Bulldogs came roaring back to life.

The go-ahead basket by Beaver on an inbound play clinched the 28-27 win for the team and kept their record unsullied as the A-team moved to 8-0.

With only one loss for B-team this year and two for C-team, Folley has seen consistent improvement with all three teams in essentials like rebounding, passing and ball handling as they continue to master the basics of the game.

“Overall, this whole group’s done a great job,” he said.

The Bulldogs will host rival Steamboat Springs Saturday morning, a game Beaver expects to be a tough one.

“They’ve got a good full court press,” he said of the Sailors.

For Beaver and his teammates, having a target on their backs is only a limitation if they let it become one.

“All the teams want to beat us, but we’ve got good teamwork this year,” he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

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