Moffat County middle-schoolers stand up to top teams at state basketball tourney
March 15, 2018
It was the first time for some at a statewide tournament, but it likely won't be the last for Moffat County's eighth-grade hoopsters.
Bulldog basketball was well represented during the Colorado Middle School Basketball Championship Tournament March 9 to 11 in Colorado Springs, as eighth-grade girls placed third and eighth-grade boys sixth in highly competitive pools.
The invitation-only event was a mixture of club and school teams for grades six through eight, with both Moffat County squads competing in the school category despite not officially representing Craig Middle School on the floor of the US Olympic Training Center.
During their final season at CMS, the eighth-grade girls A-Team won every game to repeat as district champions and were looking to keep the streak alive.
However, they ran into trouble in the opening round with a 41-35 defeat to Ponderosa and were eliminated from championship contention with 46-45 heartbreaker loss to Monument Academy, who would go on to capture the title with Ponderosa runner-up.
They bounced back from there, winning twice against D'Evelyn, 53-37 and 56-48 to win the consolation rounds.
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Eric Hamilton coached the team, consisting of Emma Knez, Emma Jones, Halle Hamilton, Rylie Felten, Bree Meats, Reese Weber and Jacie Evenson.
"The girls played super tough against three very good teams," he said. "This team is really talented and play very unselfish and intense basketball. It awesome was to have the opportunity to play for the first-ever Middle School State Championship. These girls are all heart!"
The eighth-grade boys were also seeking a strong follow-up to their CMS season, which ended back in December with a district championship for both the A- and B-Teams.
Bulldogs won 58-41 against GVCA before falling 59-52 to eventual champion Aurora Central to go to the consolation brackets.
A narrow victory over ThunderRidge at 55-52 followed, leading to a 52-41 loss to the Legend Titans. Players included Thayne Kitchen, Jordan Carlson, Kale Beckett, Carson Miller, Myles Simpson, Logan Hafey, Taran Teeter, David Andujo, Eric Doolin and Ryan Peck and Colby Orwig.
Jim Loughran has been coaching the group on the AAU circuit in a 15-4 run, rounding out the year at an upcoming Casper, Wyoming tournament.
He noted the amount of skill they saw from their opponents in Colorado Springs.
"Some pretty tough teams there," he said. "A lot of them were the equivalent of a (high school) JV team, especially Legend. Those kids were big."