Moffat County hoopsters pull no punches in defeats of Aspen in Denver
January 6, 2018
DENVER — An NBA venue was the site of a pair of one-sided victories Friday as the Moffat County High School basketball teams snowed their latest opponents.
The Bulldogs hit the hardwood that the Denver Nuggets call home during games at Pepsi Center against Aspen.
One dozen and counting
MCHS girls began the day with a 63-25 victory over the Skiers, the first 3A Western Slope League team the Lady Dogs have faced this season.
Recommended Stories For You
Moffat County has not lost a game to Aspen since dropping to the 3A division in 2012, and they weren't about to start, making it a 12-0 series.
Jana Camilletti immediately put MCHS on the Jumbotron with two points on a contested shot but didn't convert on the subsequent free throw. Lexi Ferlisi answered back on the other end for the Skiers, but 2-2 was as close as it would get.
Camilletti quickly drained dual three-pointers, while Jaci McDiffett and Madie Weber each added a bucket to put together a 10-point run in the 16-7 first quarter.
Tiffany Hildebrandt, Kinlie Brennise and Brooke Gumber stuck close to the rim and each gained four points in the second period to extend the lead to 28-12 at halftime, but the third quarter was the time for triples as Camilletti hit three in a row to truly get the runaway in motion.
"We didn't want to come out thinking that we were going to win," she said. "We still wanted to play hard."
Camilletti earned MVP honors and the game ball later that night leading up to the Nuggets' game against the Utah Jazz. Her five 3's were part of 19 total points.
Brennise, Hildebrandt and Emaleigh Papierski each scored eight points, Gumber six, Weber and Quinn Pinnt four and McDiffett, Jaidyn Steele and Stephenie Swindler two each.
Blizzard of buckets
As Moffat County boys stepped onto the Pepsi Center court, their minds were on the game ahead but also the last time they faced the Skiers, a team they met three times in the 2016-17 schedule, splitting during the regular season before taking a 59-49 loss in Aspen for the opening round of the district tournament.
Still, the Bulldogs stood at 8-6 in their record against the 3A WSL foe after all was said and done in Denver, finishing the day 59-37.
The guys' game began eerily like the girls' as Colby Beaver hit two foul shots for Moffat County's first points, while a response from Aspen only led to a barrage of points from Landen Najera, Brent Cook and Kasen Brennise, the first quarter ending 12-6.
The Dogs came alive in the second period as three-pointers by Kaden Hafey and Torin Reed bookended a 19-6 stretch as the Bulldogs headed off the floor leading 31-12.
The Skiers struck back to a small degree in the second half with a 17-13 third quarter and were able to get the calls to go their way for trips to the charity stripe, but an eight for 24 second half in free throws — 10 for 33 across the whole game — didn't put much of a dent in Moffat County's advantage.
Cook's personal best in points raised again with his second 30-plus game, netting 31 in the game to join Camilletti with the MVP title.
Though one of MCHS' most reliable outside shooters, Cook recorded one triple at the beginning and went in the paint for most of the game. Temporary tape on the floor denoted the high school arc, four feet closer than that of the pros.
Many of the Dogs making their attempts shot from the permanent pro mark, though Cook said he barely noticed the difference.
"I just wish our court was like this. It was a lot of fun," he said. "There's a lot of energy playing at the Pepsi Center. Everyone was hyped up, and we all like to play here."
Najera followed in points with seven, Hafey five, Beaver and Brennise four, Reed and Connor Murphy three and Jerod Chacon and Chase Cross one each.
Onward and upward
The first games of 2018 put Moffat County girls at 6-2 and boys at 5-3 as they prepare for the remainder of the season, with their long-awaited home opener set for Jan. 12 with Grand Junction Central visiting MCHS.
The Dogs stack up evenly against the Warriors, at least with common opponents — both girls teams defeated Eagle Valley and Steamboat Springs, while each of the boys groups won over the Devils and fell to the Sailors.
The following day will be the true start to league play as the Bulldogs host the Grand Valley Cardinals.
The Bulldogs will see Aspen again on the road Jan. 20 for WSL credit, but girls coach Kenley Nebeker said the Pepsi Center games provided a transitional period between winter break and getting back into the swing of things, including the younger athletes who got plenty of minutes.
"I like letting those future stars get more playing time," he said.
Boys coach Eric Hamilton noted that the trip to Denver was an indicator of the pros and cons his team still has moving forward. The win gives them a leg up from the 4-16 record of last season, though he believes players still can tighten up their game to stay in step with teams who will offer a much greater challenge, namely 6-0 Grand Valley.
"The good thing was everybody got to play and got to experience the Pepsi Center, but we've got to get to work on every aspect of the game," Hamilton said. "Defense, the effort was there, but we've got to capitalize on those turnovers. We'll celebrate this win and get to work."
Cook agreed that he and his teammates have by no means had their best game yet and still have an uphill journey to go.
"We can do way better, I promise you that," he said.