Moffat County boys basketball shooting for high-energy season
With a new coach and a great deal of young talent stepping onto the court this winter, the Moffat County High School boys basketball team is ready for a new beginning.
The MCHS hoops program has been hard at work since Nov. 18’s official start of winter sports and preparing with open gyms and more prior to the official start of winter sports.
Steve Maneotis will oversee the group — hired earlier this year to replace Eric Hamilton — stepping back into the head coaching role he held from 2007 to 2010.
“I fell more relaxed, more focused, I have a better understanding of what I need to do and what I expect from the program,” he said.
Before stepping back into the MCHS coaching job, Maneotis was at Craig Middle School and will see some of the players from those days now at the high school level.
Before the Thanksgiving break, a scrimmage with Steamboat Springs was arranged for younger players, as well as an overnight lock-in for team bonding.
“I’m pleased with our number overall; we’ve got 32 kids, and that’s great for the program and the enthusiasm,” Maneotis said. “It’s a lot of juniors and a lot of sophomores this year, and we’re excited to see how they can contribute.”
For the varsity squad, the Bulldogs graduated many of their starters last season and will see only two seniors this year: Jerod Chacon and Landen Najera.
Najera was the Bulldogs’ leader in scoring, steals, blocks and rebounds, posting 154 points, 31 steals, 19 blocks and 120 rebounds, as well as three double-doubles during the regular season, though he was unable to finish out the final weeks in February.
Chacon also posted high scoring numbers with 111 total points, leading the team in outside shooting with 19 three-pointers.
Junior Wesley Counts is the other scoring leader back this year, netting 102 points last season, as well as the best percentage in 3’s (34%) and free throws (84%).
After playing on varsity as freshmen, sophomores Ryan Peck, Jordan Carlson, Myles Simpson and Logan Hafey will seek more minutes as the Bulldogs ready for the season to come.
A 6-15 record for the 2018-19 schedule saw struggles for the Moffat County boys, though they finished near the middle of the pack in seventh out of 10 teams in the 3A Western Slope League, finishing 3-6 in league play.
The MCHS boys started last winter with a lengthy road trip to southern Colorado and will do the same this week, hitting the highway for the Mountain Top Classic hosted by Centauri in La Jara, beginning Thursday as the Bulldogs again face Sargent, Centauri and Montezuma-Cortez.
“I say it’s like we’re going to South America,” Maneotis joked.
The journey will be a long one, getting athletes in gear against challenging opponents. The following week will be another tournament run — in Glenwood Springs — before playing Dec. 17 in Steamboat and at home against Rifle Dec. 19 to round out the calendar year for varsity, though C-Team will be the first to compete in the “Dog House,” hosting Battle Mountain Dec. 12.
Maneotis said he expects a lively season from a largely young group.
“Our style of basketball is upbeat; it’ll be fun, we want to see our gym packed like when the Harlem Wizards were here,” he said. “That’s how we’re gonna play.”
Date — Opponent/Event, Home/Away; JV/Varsity Times
Dec. 5 to 7 — Centauri Tournament, Away; TBD
Dec. 12 to 14 — Glenwood Springs Tournament, Away; TBD
Dec. 17 — Steamboat Springs; Away; 4:30/7:30 p.m.
Dec. 19 — Rifle, Home; 4:30/7:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 — Gunnison, Home; 3/6 p.m.
Jan. 18 — Olathe, Home; 12:30/3:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 — Grand Valley, Away; 4:30/7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 — Cedaredge, Away; 12:30/3:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 — Summit, Home; 5:30/7 p.m.
Feb. 1 — Basalt, Away; 4:30/7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 — Delta, Away; 4:30/7:30 p.m.
Feb. 8 — Aspen, Home; 1/5 p.m.
Feb. 13 — Middle Park, Home; 4:30/7:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 — Roaring Fork, Away; 1/4 p.m.
Feb. 20 — Coal Ridge, Home; 4:30/7:30 p.m.
Feb. 28, 29 — Districts Tournament, TBD
Dec. 9 — Grand Junction, Away; 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 10 — Battle Mountain, Home; 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 12 to 14 — Meeker Tournament, Away; TBD
Dec. 17 — Steamboat Springs; Away; 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 7 — Middle Park, Home; 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 15 — Rifle, Home; 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 — Battle Mountain, Away; 11 a.m.
Jan. 30 — Summit, Home; 4 p.m.
Feb. 1 — MCHS Tournament, Home; TBD
Feb. 3 — Middle Park, Away; 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 8 — Aspen, Home; 11 a.m.
Feb. 9 — Uintah, Away; TBD
Feb. 17 — Rifle, Away; 6:30 p.m.
— Times and dates are subject to change.