Moffat County girls hoops threepeats as district champions
Boys get second wind to beat Roaring Fork, claim title
The Moffat County High School basketball teams may want to consider a side career as a cleaning crew because this weekend showed their talent for sweeps.
Both boys and girls Bulldogs varsity hoops teams reigned supreme at the 3A Western Slope League district tournament at Central High School in Grand Junction, each taking the title and in the process defeating the only teams in the WSL to hand either of them a loss this season, a 56-39 win for the girls over Olathe and 57-45 for the boys against Roaring Fork.
Third time was the charm in multiple ways for the 17-5 girls as they started Saturday against their greatest enemies of the year, the Olathe Pirates the scourge of the WSL, undefeated in the conference and only one loss overall — until the twice-beaten Lady Dogs put them at 20-2 and sent them packing for the third consecutive season.
Everything clicked from the beginning for Moffat County, having downed Grand Valley, 44-35, the day before. A 19-14 lead after the first quarter expanded to 28-19 at halftime, and all the Bulldogs had to do was keep the same tactic, which they did as everyone did what they did best on offense — Kayla Pinnt turned steals into blazing layups, Charli Earle and Morgan Lawton dominated beneath the rim, and Leah Camilletti and Josey King laid down the scores from the arc with five three-pointers between them.
“We just had that energy today,” King said. “We really wanted this one.”
Camilletti’s 21 points were a huge factor, as well as the eight apiece from Pinnt and Earle, seven for King and Lawton, two from Mattie Jo Duzik and Katelyn Peroulis and one by Alex Hamilton. Apart from scoring, executions of screens and a newly-implemented zone defense helped, said Sam McLeod, adding that the will to win was greater than ever, his own emotions high as a first-year coach for MCHS.
“We’ve come a long way in one year from not knowing each other to getting a district championship,” he said.
While the girls maintained the lead for the majority of their game, the boys championship match that followed had the MCHS side of the gym on the edge of their seats. Roaring Fork dealt a 62-57 shocker to the Bulldogs Feb. 14 and looked to take away the district honors the WSL champs, the Rams having already trounced Grand Valley Friday.
But, the 18-4 Moffat County boys were in no mood to lose twice in two weeks, keeping it close in the first half, their greatest lead of 26-20 cut down quickly as Roaring Fork’s Ben Carpenter nailed a clutch three with two seconds remaining to keep it 26-23.
A dismal third quarter on both sides was an indicator that everyone better shape up or be ready to ship out for a road game to start regionals, and in the last five minutes of the game, the Bulldogs showed there will be no bus trips for them in the coming week.
The previous neck-and-neck nature of the game began to turn around with a swish from outside by Tyler Davis and another by Dylan Kincade, and shortly thereafter, a quick five-point run put them up, 51-41, just enough to stay out of reach and ready to get the district plaque for the second year in a row.
Joe Camilletti took 22 points — 13 for 17 on individual foul shots, the team 17 for 22 — while Davis had 11, Denton Taylor got eight, Kincade and Matt Hamilton seven each and Keenan Hildebrandt two.
“Our guys played with a lot of composure, they kept diamonding out and made those shots down the stretch that we needed,” said coach Eric Hamilton amid the hubbub of the postgame happenings, as a sea of blue and white from family members and staff from Moffat County School District took over with celebration, and Bulldog players, managers and coaches snipped the netting of both the hoops as a keepsake.
Boys and girls teams each have home court advantage as the 3A playoffs begin, with their opponents announced Sunday. The boys ranked eighth in 3A and will bring in Denver Science & Tech Stapleton, 25th in the brackets. The girls received a sixth-seed and will meet No. 27 Buena Vista.
While the district experience has been nice, both teams have their sights set on going all the way to state.
“We’re one step closer,” Peroulis said happily.
Davis likewise said the season is far from done.
“There’s more to come,” he said.
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Back in classes and back in competition, the wintertime athletes of Moffat County High School are making up time from the holiday hiatus.