Moffat County boys hoops hustles in home opener for OT win over Central
January 12, 2018
Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball may have lost the mid-game battle, but when it came to extra minutes, they won the war.
The energy couldn’t be contained late Friday night for the Bulldogs’ home opener as the final buzzer sounded for a 55-53 overtime victory against the Central Warriors of Grand Junction.
The Moffat County crew made a crucial fourth quarter comeback to tie it up at 48 apiece to cap off a night that had started well and gotten shaky.
Despite leading 17-13 in the opening period, the Dogs couldn’t keep up with the Warriors once they got their second wind. Central exploded in the last few minutes of the first half to overtake MCHS with a 12-point run to put the halftime tally at 32-24.
A 12-9 third quarter wasn’t much better as Moffat County trailed 44-33, but three-pointers by Brent Cook and Cale Scranton saw them start to heat up again just as Central began to struggle with shooting on the other end. Cook added two more field goals and a free throw, but it was a foul shot by Landen Najera that tied it at 48.
MCHS’s defensive presence helped stifle the Warriors, but the Dogs also caught a break when Central’s Joey Estep lost control of the ball for a costly backcourt call with 13 seconds remaining.
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Cook straddled the arc for an attempt at a game-winning buzzer-beater, only for his shot to be stuffed by Warrior Isaiah Cameron, triggering OT.
Colby Beaver got Moffat County back in the lead for the first time with a free throw, and Central’s Jacob Leon answered right back with an up-and-under basket.
Cook hit another three and a basket in the paint, followed by another shot from the line by Najera, but the night was far from finished as Estep hit three of four free throws to keep it a one-score game.
It all came down to 1.7 seconds on the Warriors’ side of the floor, and though Leon got a clean shot from outside, the bounce off the iron was music to the ears of the Bulldog bench as players and fans alike erupted.
“It was pretty exciting,” Connor Murphy said. “We’ve never played like that before, but we had a great week of practice. Great win.”
Cook earned another 30-point game, followed in scoring by Beaver and Kasen Brennise with seven each, Najera six, Scranton three and Chace Marshall two. Leon led the Warriors with 17, Estep had 13 and Cameron 12.
Moffat County coaches were rendered hoarse, though they were unsure if it was during the game itself or the spirited celebration.
“We told them we believed in them, they came back, fought back and gave us a show,” said assistant coach Seth Watson.
Besides Cook’s typical scoring spree, head coach Eric Hamilton noted Najera’s rebounding performance and countless steals all around were key components of the W.
Hamilton was also thrilled with the boys team’s wins across the board this week, starting with C-Team victories of 59-37 over Roaring Fork and 70-24 against Steamboat Springs, while junior varsity set the tone with the Warriors, winning 39-32.
The officials, he added, kept the frenzied varsity game under control despite a plethora of late fouls.
“That’s a good crew right there,” he said.
MCHS improves to 6-3 with the win and hosts its first 3A Western Slope League game with 7-0 Grand Valley Saturday.