Moffat County basketball boys to host, girls to travel starting district tournament
Though it’s a different configuration than they’ve seen in the past several years, Moffat County High School basketball teams are ready and raring to go for the 3A Western Slope League district tournament.
MCHS hoops will see both an away game and a home match Tuesday night as the postseason gets underway for the Bulldogs.
While both MoCo squads saw a winning record within conference play, recent losses put the hurt on MCHS girls, whose 12-7 overall record puts them in the top 20 of the Rankings Percentage Index for 3A teams, meaning even with a loss at districts, the next round of playoffs could still be in sight depending on the coming week.
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Lady Bulldogs went 5-4 in the WSL, which includes defeats to league champion Delta (16-3 overall, 9-0 WSL) and runner-up Cedaredge (16-3, 8-1), as well as a Feb. 15 road loss to Roaring Fork before falling Thursday to Coal Ridge in the girls’ final home game.
Dec. 5 to 7 — Centauri Mountain Top Classic (Boys)
Dec. 5 to 7 — Meeker White River Electric Cowboy Shootout (Girls)
Dec. 12 to 14 — Glenwood Springs Tournament
Dec. 17 — Steamboat Springs
Dec. 19 — Rifle
Jan. 11 — Central (Girls)
Jan. 17 — Gunnison
Jan. 18 — Olathe
Jan. 24 — Grand Valley
Jan. 25 — Cedaredge
Jan. 30 — Summit (Boys)
Feb. 1 — Basalt
Feb. 7 — Delta
Feb. 8 — Aspen
Feb. 13 — Middle Park
Feb. 15 — Roaring Fork
Feb. 20 — Coal Ridge
Feb. 25, 28, 29 — District Tournament
Saturday play-in games for Western Slope schools saw Basalt and Olathe girls easily advance after wins over Aspen and Gunnison, respectively. The seventh-seed Longhorns will travel to Cedaredge, while the No. 8 Pirates will have a short drive to Delta.
Elsewhere, No. 5 Coal Ridge and No. 4 Roaring Fork will battle it out in Carbondale for the district quarterfinals.
Ranked sixth in the standings, MCHS girls will hit the road Tuesday, heading to Parachute to face off with the No. 3 Grand Valley Cardinals, which may be the most closely matched game in the early district lineup.
The Cards are 14-5 overall, 6-3 in the conference as well as 14th in RPI, yet Lady Bulldogs took down Grand Valley girls in their only meeting this year, MoCo seeing the win at 44-34.
Still, the same night Lady Dogs dropped one to Coal Ridge, Cardinals took care of business in their final home with the 42-36 W over Roaring Fork.
The victor of the Tuesday game will move on to the district semifinals Feb. 28 in Grand Junction, where they will see either Cedaredge or Basalt.
Home again, home again
While the top of the conference rankings are cut and dried for the girls teams, Moffat County boys have been a disruptive force among their Western Slope foes.
Delta girls were all but assured a title once they defeated Cedaredge, whereas the WSL winner for boys wasn’t clear nearly as early.
A Jan. 17 matchup in Craig handed the Gunnison Cowboys their only loss within the league and only the second defeat altogether for the 17-2, 8-1 team.
Gunnison clinched the crown Thursday with a 73-67 win over Delta, which they badly needed with Coal Ridge right behind them in the league standings.
However, the Cowboys turned out to be safe anyway, as the Titans (14-5, 7-2) suffered a 69-68 defeat the same night to none other than the Bulldogs to cap off a season that’s been utterly unpredictable for Moffat County boys, who helped drop the two league leaders out of the RPI’s top 10.
Though the Dogs took their lumps in the early season at 2-6 throughout December, likewise sustaining losses in non-conference games peppered in throughout the league schedule.
Nevertheless, WSL games have seen some of the group’s best examples of teamwork with the aforementioned wins over Gunnison and Coal Ridge combined with defeats of Aspen, Basalt, Cedaredge and — outside the ABC’s — Olathe.
Despite stumbles against Grand Valley and Roaring Fork, the Bulldogs ended league play with a 6-3 finish, their best since 2015 and the first time staying in the top four of the WSL in the same stretch, an 8-11 total record and No. 36 RPI notwithstanding.
As the No. 4 school, MCHS boys have hosting duties for the quarterfinals, and much like the girls, their game could be the closest of the night while Gunnison hosts Basalt, Coal Ridge brings in Aspen and Grand Valley sees Roaring Fork.
The evening — which begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday at MCHS — is a rematch between the Bulldogs and the No. 5 Delta Panthers, who finished the regular season with the same 8-11 record as the Dogs while going 5-4 in the league, a year after sweeping the Slope for the conference championship.
Delta teams hosted MoCo on Feb. 7, and though the Lady Panthers toppled Lady Dogs, the boys game was far closer as Bulldogs looked to take the narrow win before a last-second bucket for Delta tied it up at 67 apiece, forcing the Dogs’ only overtime scenario this year, which the Panthers won 79-75.
A victory at home would send MoCo boys to the weekend semis, where — forgoing an upset by Basalt — they’re likely to face Gunnison again.
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