Moffat County girls hoops has high hopes to continue successful streak
Moffat County High School girls varsity basketball 2018-19 schedule
After a season full of accolades state-wide, the pressure is on for Moffat County High School girls basketball to repeat their past success, but players and coaches alike see the coming weeks as business as usual.
Head coach: Jim Loughran
After two seasons, Kenley Nebeker announced his resignation as the head of the girls hoops program. Among the applicants to replace him in the position was Loughran, whose lengthy history with MCHS and Bulldog sports in particular made him stand out among candidates.
With Colorado High School Activities Association ranking Moffat County fifth in pre-season standings, the expectations are high, though for now Loughran is focusing purely on the basics.
“I want to emphasize working on fundamentals: shooting and passing,” he said. “They’re very dedicated, that’s one of the things I’ve found out fast.”
A program that has seen great successes again and again had its best season in more than a decade, going as far as the 3A state semifinals for the first time since 2006, including an upset of top-seeded team Kent Denver in the quarterfinals, placing fourth in Colorado. The 20-7 season also saw the Lady Bulldogs earn the 3A Western Slope League title and their sixth consecutive district championship. Departing senior Jana Camilletti took CHSAA All-State Second Team honors, while fellow 2018 grad Brooke Gumber led the conference in rebounds and went on to sign to play the sport at Gillette College.
2018-19 seniors: Kinlie Brennise, Tiffany Hildebrandt, Brittnee Meats, Quinn Pinnt, Jaidyn Steele, Madie Weber, manager Sharon Quick
While the team lost several seniors last year, the then-juniors who are now in their final season bring a wealth of experience to the group.
Brennise was an All-State Honorable Mention selection from MileHigh Prep Report at the end of her junior year in addition to an All-Conference First Team honoree. She’s also the team’s leading returning scorer with 208 points last year. Pinnt picked up All-Conference Honorable Mention and was the team leader in steals (51).
At the point, Weber was the leader in assists (58), while Hildebrandt looks to be the go-to rebounder if last year’s stats are any indication, third in numbers behind Gumber and Jaci McDiffett at 110 boards.
Though not leaders in any particular category last season, Steele and Meats serve as all-around athletes who can make a difference with solid defensive play.
“It’s a really solid group of seniors, and we’ll have a lot of younger girls who are going to contribute a lot,” Loughran said.
Key returners: Emaleigh Papierski, Stephenie Swindler
The Lady Dogs’ roster last season included only one freshman and one sophomore, Papierski and Swindler, respectively. A second-stringer who worked her way up to starter status by the end of the regular season, Papierski looks for more minutes this winter, as does Swindler, whose trademark speed proved a reliever in the final moments of every game she entered.
“Our strength is speed. We’re quick, so we’ll see if we can use that to our advantage,” Loughran said.
The year begins this week with a three-day tournament in La Jara, Centauri High School’s Mountain Top Classic. Both MCHS girls and boys are slated to face Montezuma Cortez Thursday, Sargent Friday and Centauri Saturday.
The hosting Falcons are likely to be the toughest competition. The southern Colorado school was 21-3 last season and might have faced Moffat County girls in the state semis, had they not been defeated in the opening round by Colorado Springs Christian, who also went on to beat the Bulldogs.
With athletes at the freshman through junior level vying for seats on the varsity bench, the lineup isn’t a certainty, and Loughran said he expects to have a good picture of the team’s capabilities after the lengthy road trip with another tourney the following week in Glenwood Springs also likely to be a challenge.
“We’ll be able to see their strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “I keep telling them the test will come, so will they pass?”
The Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters will move to Grand Junction.