Grin and bear it: Moffat County basketball splits against Rifle
Some nights you hunt the bear, some nights the bear hunts you.
And, if you’re Moffat County High School basketball, it’s both.
Bulldog hoops split Friday against a Western Slope rival, 4A Rifle. MCHS boys took a 55-44 win and girls a 45-37 loss in the non-conference night.
Undaunted by a Moffat County student section dressed in camouflage — bear hunters — Rifle boys were seeking their third victory of the season after a Thursday win against Summit, and they kept it close with the Dogs through three quarters, including a 27-24 halftime total and overtaking the Dogs in the third to lead 40-38.
Still, Moffat County’s final period was one of dominance beginning with a 15-point run to get in front and stay there.
The big story of the night for the Bulldogs was a career-best, 40-point night for Brent Cook, who could do no wrong from long range, sinking 10 triples to keep the Bulldog total escalating, as well as contributing two layups and six makes from the line.
Cale Scranton and Jerod Chacon each hit one three-pointer, Colby Beaver had six points and Kasen Brennise, Tristen Walls and Connor Murphy all added one free throw to the effort.
Joel Lopez led the Bears with 19 points.
On the other end of the spectrum, Rifle girls sought to keep their record intact, moving to 12-1 with a 45-37 win over the Lady Bulldogs.
Bears remained in the lead nearly the entire game, ahead by double digits at halftime 22-12.
“The first half wasn’t our best, but I think we fixed some things in the second,” said MCHS coach Kenley Nebeker, adding his players became somewhat predictable for their opponents.
MCHS girls were without their biggest player, as 6’ 1” Brooke Gumber was out with a dislocated shoulder.
While the outcome of being outrebounded was apparent, Nebeker said he didn’t feel it was their biggest issue.
And though Lady Dogs trailed continually, the fire was there, he said.
“The way we look at it is we had plenty of opportunities to fold up our tents, and we didn’t,” he said. “That’s what I’ve loved about these girls since I came here is they don’t want to stop fighting.”
Elly Walters put up 17 points to lead the Bears, while Jana Camilletti had 14 for the Dogs, followed by Kinlie Brennise with seven, five for Jaci McDiffett, four for Quinn Pinnt, three for Madie Weber, and two each for Tiffany Hildebrandt and Jaidyn Steele.
MCHS had a better night outside — Camilletti knocking down two triples, Brennise and Weber one each — though Rifle continually found the holes in the Dogs’ defense for up-close scoring.
Rifle coach Kristy Wallner said the key was keeping control of the tempo.
“We kept the kind of style of play that we want, took the shots that we wanted,” she said. “Moffat is big and physical, and they played really hard the entire game. We just have an experienced lineup on our side.”
While it was an up-and-down night for varsity, Moffat County JV teams each defeated the Bears, boys 50-47 and girls 26-12.
Bulldog boys improved to 7-4 with their win and girls moved to 8-3, with the teams set to get back in 3A Western Slope League mode with Saturday games in Aspen.