Moffat County basketball teams each take 40-point wins to start season

Moffat County High School's Wesley Counts goes up for a shot against Sargent during Centauri's Mountain Top Classic.
Stephen Jiron/Valley Courier

Though hundreds of miles apart for their first week of competition, Moffat County High School varsity basketball teams could not have been more in sync Thursday.

The Bulldogs’ hoops groups were on fire in their season opener, with boys and girls squads alike taking wins by 40-point margins.

At Centauri’s Mountain Top Classic, MoCo boys stunned Sargent 69-29, while closer to home, Lady Bulldogs mangled Mancos 53-11 to start Meeker’s White River Electric Cowboy Shootout.

Road warriors

If you walked into the Centauri gym near the end of the second quarter and saw the commanding halftime lead of 40-19, you might have assumed Bulldog boys had controlled the entire game.

However, the first five minutes were pretty much up for grabs, coach Steve Maneotis said, noting that a 13-all tie suddenly became a 20-15 advantage to close the first period.

“We put our full-court pressure on there,” he said. “I think we played tense at the beginning. There were some new guys on the floor in starting positions, but when it come together it was fun to watch.”

While both teams were seeing foul trouble early in their first outing on the court, the Farmers’ star player fouled out midway through the second period. The Dogs kept the pace in the latter half of the night, on the better side of a 17-8 third quarter, limiting Sargent to a single field goal in the fourth.

“We were getting great traps, great switches, and everybody on the team scored,” Maneotis said. “Offensively, we were unselfish with the ball and moved it around. They distributed and created opportunities for everybody and rebounded like maniacs. It was a good first win to get some of our sloppiness out. It was everything I wanted to see, we sent a clear message.”

Scoring was led by Wesley Counts with 16 points, including a three-pointer and five for six at the free throw line.

Hitting a triple of his own, Jerod Chacon added nine, as did Jordan Carlson.

Myles Simpson put up eight, Ryan Peck seven, Greg Spears six, and Bryan Gonzales five, also hitting one from outside.

Landen Najera had four points, Logan Hafey three and Chris Maneotis two.

MoCo boys are coming off a 6-15 record last season, though their first win last year was also over 2A Sargent, who went on to finish 17-5.

The 62-55 victory was one players appreciated at the time, though Najera noted Thursday’s game was a better display of their skills.

“We worked as a team and got the ball rolling. We started off a little slow, but when we picked it up, we couldn’t be stopped,” the Bulldog senior said. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves now, we just need to be humble and go out there and play with passion.”

Maneotis noted that while both sides were racking up turnovers, Simpson earned about a dozen steals in the first game.

“I feel like we’re way in front of the competition just because we spent all summer working together,” Simpson said. “Everybody was working out there.”

While in La Jara, MCHS will face the hosting Centauri Falcons Friday, with the group also 1-0 after defeating Olathe 74-34 in the tournament.

“We’re going to have to play very good basketball on their home floor,” Maneotis said. “We need to take better care of the ball.”

It’s electric

When last they played in the Cowboy Shootout, Moffat County girls placed third in the Meeker tourney in 2017, with a 3-0 sweep for the title a year before that.

While they spent the first week of last season at Centauri’s event, being back in Meeker treated the Lady Dogs well Thursday, securing a spot in the top half of the tourney.

With an explosive first quarter, MoCo girls held an 18-3 lead after eight minutes and by halftime were up 30-8 against the Bluejays, with Cayden King boasting 15 points and Halle Hamilton seven in the first half.

With the tally at 40-11 after the third period, the Lady Dogs put up another 13 unanswered points to round out the afternoon.

Moffat County girls move on to the semifinals of the Cowboy Shootout, with the next round at 6 p.m. Friday.

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