Moffat County basketball sees narrow loss, crucial win vs. Olathe on Senior Night |

Moffat County basketball sees narrow loss, crucial win vs. Olathe on Senior Night

A Friday evening of hoops at home for Moffat County High School was all over the spectrum between a bitter defeat to an ongoing league rival to start the varsity games and an encouraging victory to end the night, with the spotlight shining on both the tiny Bulldogs-to-be and the oldest members of Moffat County basketball.

MCHS teams split against the Olathe Pirates as Lady Bulldogs saw their first loss to a 3A Western Slope League opponent with a 28-27 heartbreaker, while Moffat County boys built up their momentum in the second half to take it 81-75.

Plundering the Pirates

After multiple matches that necessitated a second-half burst — most recently a double overtime win in Basalt — Bulldog boys were resolved to play a full 32 minutes, and it may have been one of their best first-half efforts.

MCHS put 21 points on the board in the first quarter but still trailed Olathe slightly, with 14 of the Pirates’ 23 coming from Jorge Gonzalez, including four successful outside shots from the corner.

The two teams kept in step with each other well leading up to halftime, the Dogs still behind 37-34. A home crowd energized by the Junior Bulldog Cheer Team’s show at intermission was ready to see a Moffat County victory.

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The Bulldogs’ second-half heroics kicked in as Brent Cook put together 12 points from long- and short-range to take the advantage, and Olathe’s offense was neutralized, particularly Gonzalez.

“We set somebody strictly on him so he wouldn’t get as many wide-open threes,” Chace Marshall said. “We came together, we knew we could beat this team, came out and did our jobs.”

A 58-52 lead for MCHS kept going their way as Connor Murphy opened the final quarter with his third of four triples and Cook, Kasen Brennise, Colby Beaver and Landen Najera maintained the scoring spree to improve to 9-7 overall and 2-4 among WSL teams.

Cook hit 25 points with four three-pointers, followed by Beaver with 15. Murphy and Najera each had 12, Brennise nine, Scranton six and Tristen Walls two.

Though he didn’t add any points, Marshall said he was pleased with his performance on the other side of the ball for the night.

“I’m not much of a scorer, but I’m much more of a defensive player,” he said. “I had a lot of good boards and steals.”

Oh, my, Olathe…

The inter-conference rivalry between the Pirates and the Lady Bulldogs saw a lull during the 2016-17 season with only one meeting, but the flames have been fanned again.

Neither MCHS nor Olathe could get in the groove during their first quarter, with Jana Camilletti hitting the first bucket and the Pirates adding a few of their own for a meager 6-2 tally.

Kinlie Brennise snapped the Dogs’ cold streak in the second period, but Olathe began to heat up and also had little trouble creating taking away the ball. Despite some points in the paint by Emaleigh Papierski and Brooke Gumber to retaliate, MCHS remained behind 15-13 at the half.

Lady Bulldogs were stuck in catch-up mode throughout the second half, down by as much as seven as the lid stayed on both rims, yet layups by Papierski, Jaci McDiffett and Quinn Pinnt kept them close, down 23-20 going into the fourth quarter.

Steals persisted in the last eight minutes, but MCHS girls borrowed a page from boys by finding their footing in the final minute as McDiffett nailed shots in the lane to regain the lead at 26-25, while Gumber slapped away a crucial shot by Megan Young to get MCHS fans rabid.

A free throw by Camilletti pushed the lead to 27-25, meaning the Pirates needed to hit one from outside for the go-ahead score.

As excited as the home crowd was, a clutch shot by Myrisa Mitchell with six seconds remaining had the visiting bunch in hysterics and MCHS coach Kenley Nebeker furiously drawing up a play. But, with limited time on their hands, the Lady Dogs couldn’t get off a shot before the buzzer.

McDiffett led with eight points, Brennise had five, Gumber, Camilletti and Papierski had four each and Pinnt two.

As the lone freshman on the girls varsity roster, Papierski said she didn’t know what to expect from Olathe compared to older players who have seen them time and again, though she didn’t want to underestimate them.

“We had good energy, but I think we just had way too many turnovers,” Papierski said.

The game was the lowest score for Moffat County girls this season, as well as an all-around rough night at the foul line — three for 18 — as their record goes to 12-4 overall and 5-1 WSL. However, Delta’s loss earlier in the week to Cedaredge means the Bulldogs still remain in contention for a conference title providing they take no more defeats starting with Saturday’s home game against Gunnison.

“We really need to run our offense right like we know how to,” Papierski said.

See ya, seniors

Before each varsity game came the send-off for the teams’ seniors athletes. Though the final home event of the regular season for basketball will be Feb. 17, players preferred to do Senior Night on a Friday.

Girls saluted Gumber, McDiffett, Camilletti and Josie Timmer and boys Kasen Brennise, Cook, Walls and Marshall.

Collages of each senior player through the years were set up in the lobby, all of which also featured photos of past sporting events in blue and white.

Marshall spent part of his senior year in Ohio, including football season, and despite a late start getting back on the basketball team, he was glad to move back to Moffat County.

“I’ve been playing with these kids for my whole life,” he said. “I feel comfortable on this team, and I think I fit my role very well.”