Moffat County girls hoops has trying time with Cañon City Tigers
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — When it comes to early season lessons, Moffat County High School basketball coach Jim Loughran would rather his players learn from a bitter but enlightening defeat than an easy win.
Still, that didn’t make the process any easier for MCHS girls Thursday.
Lady Bulldogs took a hard loss to start the Glenwood Springs Demon Invitational with a 60-32 rout by Ca?on City.
The opening round of the three-day tournament didn’t look too unbalanced if you only stayed for the first eight minutes. MoCo girls kept the pace with the Tigers throughout the first quarter, holding a 9-7 lead with early buckets by Quinn Pinnt, Tiffany Hildebrandt, Halle Hamilton and Madie Weber.
Just before the period buzzer, Kate Tedquist hit the match’s first three-pointer to put the Tigers ahead 10-9. Thus kicked off a five-point run for Ca?on before Hildy hit a post shot and Kinlie Brennise drained a free throw.
The going got rougher from there as the Tigers added another 15 points before a timeout with less than two minutes left in the half. Brennise nailed a layup to halt the Bulldog dry spell, to which her opponents promptly responded with another field goal, the scoreboard reading 32-14 at halftime.
Lady Dogs had their best stretch in the third quarter, which started with Pinnt powering into the paint and knocking her defender to the floor while still gaining the score to show the Moffat offense was still a force.
The Tigers weren’t too threatened — heading into the finale, both teams had put up 15 points and their lead was comfortable at 47-29.
With another 10 unanswered points by Ca?on City and a comeback looking less and less likely, Loughran cycled through more of his roster to see what they could do.
The final four minutes was all about the reserves as Brittnee Meats, Jenna Timmer and Stephenie Swindler were joined by freshmen Reese Weber and Rylie Felten in their first varsity suit-ups.
The Tigers also worked in more of their players, getting only one more triple from there as Timmer added a layup with the and-one.
The battle for the ball was fiercer at that juncture than it had been all day as each side kept at it for pride.
Though she was in and out during the full game, Swindler noted the final minutes were both challenging and fun.
“I did better than I thought I was going to do,” she said. “I think my mindset is always on defense because I’m better at that, but we all wanted to keep our heads up and do our best.”
Jerika Moore put together a breakout day for the Tigers with 23 total points — including seven three-pointers as part of 10 perimeter baskets her team had — while Hamilton put in the only triples for the Dogs, two as part of eight overall points.
Pinnt and Hildy each scored seven.
The loss put the Dogs at 2-2 and moved them to the consolation bracket of the tournament, next scheduled to meet Faith Christian at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Even so, Loughran said the defeat was almost more valuable than a win. Early season tournament honors are a minor concern when the long game is to build skills little by little and work out the bugs to sweep through the 3A Western Slope League schedule starting in January and keep going into the postseason.
Loughran said improvement will only come from playing teams that never let up on them, and Ca?on City was a much more worthwhile game than the blowout win MCHS had a week earlier against the 2A Sargent Farmers at the Mountain Top Classic.
Besides taking on a 4A school, the Tigers were a formidable opponent regardless of size. Their only loss before the Demon Invite was a narrow one, 41-39, to Liberty.
“They were lightning-quick. They played a fast-paced style and anticipated us well,” Loughran said of Ca?on City. “It’s a good lesson because that’s how we want to be.”
The National Junior High Finals Rodeo will be bringing in the top cowboy and cowgirl athletes from June 23 to 29 in Huron, South Dakota.