MCHS basketball team tuning up through summer league play |

MCHS basketball team tuning up through summer league play

Nate Waggenspack

Incoming Moffat County High School junior Taft Cleverly brings the ball up the court during a summer league game against Little Snake River Valley High School. Cleverly is one of a few upperclassmen who MCHS head coach Eric Hamilton will look to for leadership this season.

Summer may not be prime high school basketball season, but for local boys basketball players, it resonates with tournament intensity.

Moffat County High School played two games in its summer league Saturday — one each against Little Snake River Valley High School and Hayden High School.

Despite the games being informal, the teams did not take them lightly.

"I love the teams we've got in this league," MCHS boys basketball head coach Eric Hamilton said. "Everybody is so talented and goes at it hard. Everybody wants to win. It's great competition."

Incoming junior Taft Cleverly, an MCHS guard, said it didn't matter the games were being played during the summer.

The Bulldogs never feel good about losing, he said.

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"I never want to lose to Hayden. I don't like losing to anybody," Cleverly said. "We're competitive guys, we like to win."

This was the second set of summer league games MCHS has played, and along with a camp in Hotchkiss in May, Hamilton said he has seen a great deal of improvement from the Bulldogs so far.

"I'm proud of our guys. The team's come a long way," Hamilton said. "We're still young and inexperienced, but we're way ahead of where we were at this time last year."

In Hamilton's first season as head coach of the Bulldogs, the team struggled, going 6-15 on the season and 3-9 in the Western Slope League.

Part of the Bulldogs' problem was having only two seniors on the roster.

The Bulldogs won’t have many upperclassmen again this year, but there will be a host of sophomores who gained experience playing with the varsity team last season.

Hamilton believes he has a talented core this season.

"We're playing a lot of tough teams, and we're playing with them," he said. "Our guys aren't backing down from any challenges, and they play intense. I have to remind them that it's just summer league, because they play like it's do or die out there."

Hamilton said the Bulldogs like to play at a frenetic pace, especially in transition.

Cleverly said he thinks that will be an advantage for the Bulldogs when the season begins.

"It seems like when we're running, we're playing better," he said. "We play hard defense, too, which helps us get into those fast breaks and speed the game up."

While the team is improving, there is still plenty of work to be done.

When Hayden switched to a zone defense, MCHS struggled for several possessions.

"We haven't worked much against a zone so far," incoming sophomore guard Joe Camilletti said. "We turned it over too many times against them." Hamilton identified more problems.

"Right now, I think our rebounding is a weakness. It comes and goes, but you have to have it all the time, especially against good offensive rebounding teams like we played today," he said.

The next summer league games will be at noon Saturday at MCHS.

Steamboat Springs High School and Meeker High School are also in the summer league.

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MCHS boys basketball key dates for 2012-13 season:

• Nov. 9 — First practice

• Nov. 28 — Games begin

• Feb. 23 — Regular season ends

• March 2 — District tournament concludes

• March 14-16 — State finals


“I’m proud of our guys. The team’s come a long way. We’re still young and inexperienced, but we’re way ahead of where we were at this time last year.”

—Eric Hamilton, Moffat County High School boys basketball head coach, about the team’s improvement over the summer