MCHS varsity boys hit the court Saturday | CraigDailyPress.com

MCHS varsity boys hit the court Saturday

John Vandelinder

Each and every Bulldogs boys varsity basketball practice starts the same way.

Coach Steve Maneotis leads off with a quote – most from famous leaders, sometimes Maneotis originals – to motivate his troops.

Thursday night, at the onset of the team’s 18th practice, the quote was delivered in question form.

“When opportunity knocks, will you be up for the challenge?” Maneotis asked.

He’ll find out soon enough.

The Bulldogs’ opportunity has arrived, as the team kicks off its 2008-09 season Saturday in Grand Junction.

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Moffat County (0-0 4A Western Slope League, 0-0 overall) tips off at 11 a.m. against Montezuma-Cortez (0-0 4A Southwestern League, 0-0 overall) in Palisade – approximately halfway between the two schools.

Considering the 2007-08 team started its season 1-11, Maneotis said it’s pivotal to begin this year strong.

“You know, this year it’s a pretty high priority for us,” he said. “The kids have put just as much of an emphasis on it as I have. We’re pretty focused on getting off on the right foot and coming out of there with a win against what we feel is going to be a really good Cortez team.”

The Panthers won just five games last season, but Maneotis said his team can’t overlook anybody – regardless of their record.

“They’ve got a couple of transfers that are tough,” he said. “They have a 6-foot-6 center that averaged 14-and-a-half and seven rebounds a game last year, and they are heavy with seniors, as well.”

Moffat County will attack Cortez with returning starters Chayton Owens (center), Mike Peters (point guard) and Thomas Noble (shooting guard).

Kelton Willbanks will start at the four, and Collin “Action” Jackson – as labeled by Maneotis – gets the nod at the three spot.

All five starters are seniors, as well as sixth-man Oscar Ramos (guard/forward).

“I’ve got a nice combination this year,” Maneotis said. “I mean, I really could go 10 deep if I wanted too. I have confidence in every one of these kids, but right now, I’m going to rely on my seniors to get things going for us.”

Winning aside, Maneotis said he’s looking for a little bit more to begin the season.

“I’m looking for two things: chemistry and effort,” he said. “I want to see where my five starters have come, obviously, but I want to see how the guys I have coming off the bench mix. I’m looking for a strong defensive effort and taking care of the basketball.

“If we can do those things, and do them well, the rest will take care of itself.”

MCHS boys season-opening roster

Starting unit:

Center: Chayton Owens (Sr.)

Power forward: Kelton Willbanks (Sr.)

Small forward: Collin Jackson (Sr.)

Shooting guard: Thomas Noble (Sr.)

Point guard: Mike Peters (Sr.)

Reserves:

1. Oscar Ramos (Sr.)

2. Brian Ivy (Jr.)

3. Jordan Wilson (Jr.)

4. Dylon Camilletti (So.)

5. Angelo Raftopoulos (So.)

6. Dustin Carlson (So.)

7. Jeremiah Gordon (Jr.)