Moffat County, Hayden girls hoops stay intense in summer scrimmages
With nearly a third of the year between now and their first official practice, there’s more than ample time for Moffat County High School girls basketball to get on their game. Even so, the dog days of summer saw Lady Bulldogs at their most fierce.
MCHS girls had hardly lost a step from last season, as could be glimpsed in a set of scrimmages Thursday night as they hosted Hayden.
Moffat County exploded right from the tipoff with a smothering defense and fast-paced offense with the Tigers hot on their tails.
MCHS coaches Kenley Nebeker and Joe Padon had most of their roster returning from last winter, as well as multiple eager incoming freshmen.
The Lady Dogs have spent much of the summer staying in fighting shape with tournaments in Sterling, Windsor, Manila, Utah and most recently in Gunnison, where they also saw Hayden and Steamboat Springs, both of which will attend additional scrimmages with the ladies in blue July 26.
The new head of Hayden’s program, Lori Raper, said she wasn’t surprised at the level of competition in the Doghouse as she looks to build up her team, which finished the 2017-18 season 6-15.
“I always want to win even when I know what’s ahead of me,” she said, noting the intensity of the Bulldogs she knew was in store. “They played pretty good as a nucleus, but we got out-rebounded and were kind of cold in the second half. That pressure from Craig was amazing.”
A 40-7 game between non-varsity players — complete with a running clock — led to a 59-23 win for MoCo varsity, and Raper noted that keeping score in a scrimmage scenario may have been more of a distraction than she would have liked.
“I’m proud of their performance, a lot of good, young kids playing and stepping up,” she said. “In these situations, there’s always something to be learned about character. They know they have a lot to learn, and once we implement some offensive systems, it’ll really start to kick in.”
Nebeker likewise had little interest in the tally and was focused on coordinating athletes new and returning. Last winter ended with a 20-7 count for MCHS girls, with Western Slope League, district and regional titles in tow, making it as far as the 3A state semifinals.
Despite the usual senior turnover, players are already starting to fill the roles on the court with a strong post presence, playmaking and confident outside shooting.
Fall sports like volleyball and cross country will soon be on the schedule for many of his players, though he expects them to be raring to go by November.
“One thing we’re working on is getting faster than last year, and they’re taking that on really nicely,” he said. “The biggest thing is the girls are giving their full effort, you could see it out there. That’s one thing I’ve always prided myself on as a coach is having players who come out ready to play hard.”
One inning can define an entire game of baseball, and though Moffat County High School was on both sides of that truth Saturday, the Bulldogs’ first conference matchup ultimately went their way.