Moffat County hoops ready for 2nd go-round of league opponents |

Moffat County hoops ready for 2nd go-round of league opponents

Moffat County junior Hudson Jones blocks a Steamboat Springs layup by smacking the ball against the backboard to save two points during a boys basketball game in Steamboat on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Now that they’ve seen all that the 4A Western Slope League schools have to offer, Moffat County basketball teams are looking to make some tweaks, build on existing strengths and make the rest of the season memorable.

Bulldog hoops rounded out the first half of the conference schedule over the past weekend with road games in Steamboat Springs and Rifle.

The Friday, Jan. 27, rivalry games between MoCo and Steamboat were a mixed night for the Bulldogs, with a 36-21 win for the girls and a 49-32 loss for the boys.

Moffat girls have not lost to the Sailors since 2010, and an 11-2 lead in the first quarter showed they wouldn’t be doing so anytime soon. The Bulldogs held their opponents to single digits in every period despite struggling somewhat to put points on their side of the scoreboard.

For the boys, a similar scenario played out as Steamboat held them to an 18-7 first half as the Dogs only hit two field goals.

“Steamboat’s just a pretty solid team right now. They played really tough defense,” said MoCo boys coach Mark Carlson. “Offensively they didn’t do anything super special, obviously they scored more points than we did, but defensively they really get after it. They work well as a team mentally.”

Beat up the Bears

A Saturday, Jan. 28, series in Rifle was far better all-around for the Craig crews.

It was a slow start for the girls, which coach Seth Watson noted was a bit of a hold-over from the previous game.

“On the offensive side of the ball we were putting too much pressure on ourselves, which caused a lot of turnovers. That pressure did not go away until we went down 9-0 against Rifle,” he said. “Then I called a timeout and just stressed we need to play like we practice which was amazing this week. We finally were able to get some offensive momentum after that and kept it throughout the whole night.”

The girls took a 55-45 win, with seniors Lizzy LeWarne and Cayden King leading the attack with 15 points and 12 points, respectively. Junior Emma Tucker put up 10.

After getting a double-double in Steamboat — 11 points, 13 rebounds — LeWarne did it again with 14 boards, remaining the undisputed league leader in the statistical category.

After getting shut down by Steamboat, the boys responded with their highest-scoring game yet this season in a 74-52 victory.

Even so, it was a little shaky, coach Carlson said.

“We started out pretty hot, scored 21 in the first quarter and then kind of let off the gas a little bit and kind of let them back in it the second quarter,” he said. “I just kind of talked to them that we can’t be that team that just lets teams hang around and get confidence. They came out and took care of business in the second half.”

Senior Johnny Lopez had a personal best in scoring with 17 points, including a trio of three-pointers. Junior Hudson Jones put up 16 and senior Marcos Romero 10.

Carlson also noted that 18 assists among the team was an indication of good chemistry.

Look of the league

The first stretch of 4A Western Slope League games left the Moffat girls in fourth place and boys in sixth.

For the girls rankings, Delta remains the team to beat without a single loss yet in league play. The Bulldogs will rematch the Panthers on Feb. 11, their next home game after multiple upcoming road matches.

For the boys, while Steamboat has been dominating the Western Slope, the standings are less steady as lower-ranked teams have been pulling off upsets to make things uncertain for everyone, such as Aspen beating Coal Ridge.

“Everybody in the league is kind of just beating up on each other right now,” Carlson said.

Bulldog boys will host the Skiers Friday night, Feb. 4, a team they’ve defeated twice this winter.

Now that they’ve faced off with everyone in the conference, Carlson said he expects it will be easier to draw up some game plans.

“I think we can make the right adjustments to give ourselves a chance,” he said.

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