Moffat County girls hoops nails down top spot in league with win over Grand Valley
Bulldog boys place sixth in league with loss to Cardinals
The stakes were high for Moffat County High School basketball teams Friday with a league championship in the works for one squad and possibly the last home outing for 11 senior Bulldogs.
It was a memorable Senior Night in the MCHS gym as Grand Valley came into the Dog House, Cardinals teams prepared to shake things up in the Western Slope League rankings in the last week of the regular season.
Pre-game ceremonies honored senior players, including Leah Camilletti, Morgan Lawton, Kayla Pinnt, Katia Voloshin, Hannah Walker, Scott Foster, Connor Knez, Dylan Kincade, Ben Robinson and Dusty Taylor, as well as Kody Fief, who was unable to play.
The Lady Bulldogs shook off the sentiment to get their heads in the game against the Cardinals, hoping to repeat a Jan. 23 win that secured them at the top of the WSL rankings, another victory guaranteeing them the top seed at next week’s district tournament in Grand Junction.
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A game that ended 72-41 in favor of the girls in white didn’t quite start off well for Moffat County as Grand Valley girls enjoyed a 17-10 first quarter lead as Lady Bulldogs’ shots fell far less frequently than they should have. The mojo changed hands quickly though, and the Lady Cardinals went from being in front by eight early in the second quarter to being ahead by a sliver at 21-20, largely thanks to a series of fast break baskets by Mattie Jo Duzik.
A three-pointer by Camilletti midway through the period put MCHS girls ahead, never falling behind from there as they went into the locker room at 29-21. A 12-point run in the third quarter, for the Bulldogs saw Grand Valley behind at 50-33 as Lady Bulldogs notched dual periods of more than 20 points each in the second half, with Duzik leading scoring with 20 total points, Lawton 19 and Camilletti 18. Grand Valley girls were led by Shaya Chenoweth and Bailey Rowe, each with 15 points, Rowe taking three three-pointers.
Lady Cardinals were 15 for 43 in shooting, three for 14 in threes and eight for 17 in free throws, while MCHS girls went 30 for 65 in overall shots, hitting one of five attempts outside and were 11 for 26 at the stripe.
“We didn’t have the defensive pressure we wanted in the first half, so we started doing a few different things, some defensive trapping and started playing our game in transition, that was the key,” head coach Sam McLeod said.
It was the opposite story for MCHS boys, who also started all five eligible seniors, as well as suiting up JV players Colby Beaver, Carter Severson and Cale Scranton.
In a first quarter that was one of the strongest opening eight minutes the Bulldogs have played this season, Kincade hit a trio of threes and Robinson one to answer Grand Valley threat John Parker, who drained five from outside, the duel resulting in a 23-all period.
Parker cooled down from there, but the rest of the Cardinals kept up the defense to lead the half, 38-36.
The third quarter was not the best of the three but not for lack of trying, Grand Valley shooting long nine times, Parker only hitting one. On the other side of the court, Keenan Hildebrandt, already facing pressure in the paint from fellow big man Tanner Magee, was nullified beneath the bucket in the second, though the Bulldogs were able to hold Grand Valley to a mere four-point lead at 50-46 in the quarter.
Still, the Cardinals kept at it in the fourth, starting with a dunk by Gunner Rigsby, and things started to fall apart for MCHS as fouls racked up, Kincade had to leave the game with an ankle injury and Grand Valley defense let them score little, ending it, 70-56, for the Cards.
Parker led scoring for the night with 40 points, 17 of which came in the first quarter, with six total threes. Magee followed with 13 and Rigsby 11, while Leoray Hernandez hit two from outside. Total shooting was 25 for 50, 11 for 12 in free throws and eight out of 24 three shots. Cardinals are now 15-3 overall and 11-2 WSL, hosting Gunnison today.
Kincade had 21 for the Bulldogs with four total threes, Robinson 10 — including two threes — and Hildebrandt nine. Taylor also swished a late threefer to move to six points. MCHS went 21 for 58 overall, seven for 12 in foul shots and hit seven of 18 long shots to make them 6-12 and 5-8.
Bulldog boys rank sixth in the WSL as they look to end the regular season altogether traveling today to meet Aspen, likely starting districts next week with a Tuesday road game.
For the girls, their win puts them at 12-1 in WSL play, clinching the No. 1 spot for districts that could have gone to the 10-3 Cardinals or 11-2 Olathe if the Bulldogs had lost.
Even with an unlikely defeat at today’s season finale in Aspen, the Bulldogs will be in prime position to move to the playoffs.
The WSL championship, which will be earned with a win against the Skiers, is a benefit but not the goal, Lawton said.
“It’s only one step as we keep going,” she said.
Likewise, McLeod is waiting until things are finalized, not wanting a de facto honor.
“We want the outright title, so we’re not going to celebrate quite yet,” McLeod said.
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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