Moffat County hoops headed toward districts after hot games with Coal Ridge
NEW CASTLE — Moffat County High School basketball teams marked the end of the regular season Thursday night, and even as the schedule comes closer to its conclusion, Bulldogs are keeping their intensity greater than ever.
MCHS girls finished 3A Western Slope League play 8-1 with a 46-31 road win over the Coal Ridge Titans to improve to 15-4 overall. Bulldog boys followed with an equally action-packed game, one which Moffat County guys lost 78-57.
Lady Dogs brought the pain early with an 18-5 opening quarter complete with three-pointers by Kinlie Brennise and Jaidyn Steele and inside field goals for Stephenie Swindler, Emaleigh Papierski, Halle Hamilton and Tiffany Hildebrandt. They didn’t slow down from there, rolling over Coal Ridge for the following eight minutes of the game clock to make it a 32-13 halftime with Hamilton sinking her second triple at the horn.
The Titans’ physicality let MoCo girls get work done solely from the free throw line in the third quarter, as Papierski and Steele combined to go six-for-six at the stripe, finishing the period with a 38-18 lead.
Coal Ridge’s towering Taylor Wiescamp — the WSL’s leader in rebounds per game — and comrades fought for every possession, with an abundance of jump balls resulting from the skirmishes, most of which saw athletes hit the floor.
Lady Dogs gave as good as they got, as Madie Weber and Jenna Timmer fouled out late in the high-energy game.
“We came out strong with a lot of confidence, and I think that helped, but Coal Ridge had good D,” Brennise said.
Hamilton finished the regular season with an even 30 three-pointers and led the Dogs with 13 points for the night to Wiescamp’s 12, while Hildebrandt put 10 on the board and Steele seven.
The trend of first-quarter ferocity continued for the Bulldog boys, who likewise caught fire from the perimeter.
As part of a 15-point night earned exclusively from deep shots, Torin Reed had triples in triplicate at the start of the game, while Connor Murphy sunk one from downtown while also getting in the paint along with Cale Scranton and Connor Etzler to lead the Titans 19-11.
“I wish we could have a first quarter like that every night,” said coach Eric Hamilton.
The Dogs’ defense got careless from there, however, as MoCo fouls sent Coal Ridge to the line eight times in the second quarter alone, the Titans getting 17 trips to that spot during the evening.
Jerod Chacon also put up points from the arc for the Bulldogs, but the Coal Ridge crowd was more interested in a buzzer-beating 3 by Kevin DiMarco to end the half 40-25 for the Titans.
Shutting down the 6′ 8″ DiMarco proved a tall order for Moffat County, though they still managed to outscore the Titans 18-17 in the third quarter as Murphy rained down a pair of 3’s and Ryan Peck stayed tough in the post to get small but crucial buckets.
Even with 33 points for the night, DiMarco’s biggest moment was more blunder than wonder; as he went up for a block against Peck, he knocked loose part of the backboard, stopping the clock with 30 seconds in the period as Coal Ridge personnel taped up the broken border.
Colby Beaver kept the ball rolling as he absorbed fouls in the fourth quarter, while Reed swished two more triples and Wesley Counts got a last-second Bulldog three-pointer, though the Titans couldn’t be stopped with a 21-14 finale.
“We were at a disadvantage in height, but we still brought that intensity. That’s what we need to have from here,” Reed said.
Following Reed in the point count were Murphy with 12, Peck eight and Beaver seven.
Though they experienced a slide in WSL play to move to fifth in the rankings at 6-3, the 15-3 Coal Ridge boys will have the best overall record in their conference with a win Friday against Eagle Valley in their final game before the postseason.
Meanwhile, the loss keeps MCHS boys firmly in seventh place at 3-6 in the league and 5-14 altogether.
Lady Bulldogs will have to wait and see who makes the trip to Craig for their first district tournament game. At second place, they will host the highest-seeded team in Saturday play-in games, the likelihood being No. 7 Gunnison (3-6 WSL, 7-12 overall), which hosts No. 10 Olathe (0-9, 3-16).
Should the Pirates win Saturday in Gunnison, they will have to face top girls team Delta (9-0 WSL, 18-1 overall), in which case Moffat girls will bring in the victor between rivals Aspen and Basalt, with the eighth-place Longhorns (3-6, 5-14) hosting the No. 9 Skiers (1-8, 4-15) Saturday after Basalt bested Aspen 39-31 Thursday.
Either way, the game will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday at MCHS, 900 Finley Lane.
“We’re just going to keep it going one step at a time, working on our game,” Brennise said.
Bulldog boys will suit up Saturday at home against Cedaredge, who finished the regular season 0-9 in WSL action, a rough stretch that included a 57-32 January defeat at the Dog House.
A Cedaredge win sends the league’s bottom team to conference champs Delta (9-0, 15-4), though if Moffat boys take the victory, they could be on the road to Carbondale Tuesday, with 7-2 Roaring Fork sliding into runner-up status after the Rams bested Grand Valley 46-40 and Gunnison took a 56-35 Thursday loss to Delta.
The Dogs will tip off at 2 p.m. Saturday against the Bruins at MCHS. Spectators are reminded that playoff games’ ticket prices are increased, as mandated by CHSAA.
Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens.
For more information, call 970-824-7036.
When in doubt, stick to the animal kingdom, blockbuster movies and children’s literature. The winners of the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous were named Saturday evening to conclude the yearly festival that sees tree stumps become works of art in a matter of four days.