Moffat County boys basketball building toward bigger things | CraigDailyPress.com
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Moffat County boys basketball building toward bigger things

Moffat County High School's Cale Scranton looks to add some points during the Steamboat Shootout. MCHS boys basketball will begin its league play Dec. 23 against Coal Ridge at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Andy Bockelman

With the memory in their minds of a season that didn’t quite go according to plan, Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School boys basketball players are ready to step up to the challenge this year to return to their former glory. boys basketball players are ready to step up to the challenge this year to return to their former glory.

Moffat County High School boys basketball players are ready to step up to the challenge this year to return to their former glory.

MCHS hoopsters are back in action, preparing for a tough schedule amid changes both within the team and in the 3A Western Slope League.

The Bulldogs deal with significant senior turnover after saying farewell to six upperclassmen in February, and the number of seniors on the squad is slimmer this year.

Keenan Hildebrandt and Eddie Smercina return as varsity leaders, while an abundance of younger players move up in the ranks, some of whom saw plenty of minutes last season and others being put through their paces at the top level in early tournaments.

The Dogs gain some extra height on the floor with six-foot, seven-inch Justin Dugan coming onto the team, while an inherent quickness remains a strength.

“We have a lot more speed, so we’ll use that to our advantage,” Smercina said. “We’re still getting the kinks worked out.”

MCHS boys wrapped up last season 7-13 overall and sixth place in the 3A Western Slope League following the 2014-15 year that saw them earn the conference title and win the district tournament. However, with four losses last year a matter of two buckets or less — including dual heartbreakers to eventual WSL champs Coal Ridge — finishing strong is a key emphasis this season, said coach Eric Hamilton.

“We want more aggressive play on offense and a lot more confidence because we’ve got the guys to do it,” Hamilton said. “Our focus this week has been about 90 percent defense. We’ve got to create trouble for people and shut things down on that side.”

MCHS teams open league play Dec. 23 against Coal Ridge at the Pepsi Center

“Coal Ridge right off the bat, they’ve been really tough the last two years, a really well-balanced team,” Smercina said.

The rest of the lineup will be vastly different this season. The eight-team league expands to 10 with Delta and Cedaredge moving to the 3A division as they have in sports such as soccer and volleyball.

“Delta, we know they’ve got some good athletes, and a 4A team coming down, they’ve gotta be tough this year,” Kasen Brennise said.

Rather than meeting every WSL team twice, Moffat County will face most only once, while non-conference games against larger teams Rifle and Grand Junction Central will also fill out the schedule.

Though the team struggled in tournaments to begin the season at Lake County and Steamboat Springs, the benefit has been in getting players to cope with adverse game situations, which can only strengthen their skills going forward on the court.

Hamilton said he has confidence his athletes can reverse the output from last season.

“We want to make this season count, get back to a winning season, get postseason play, win championships,” he said. “I know these guys can do it.”

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.


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