No dogging it now: Moffat County boys basketball wins rematch with Gunnison to advance in districts | CraigDailyPress.com

No dogging it now: Moffat County boys basketball wins rematch with Gunnison to advance in districts

Moffat County High School's Landen Najera looks on as teammate Connor Murphy attempts a steal during a home against Gunnison. MCHS boys basketball won a rematch against the Cowboys to move on to the next round of the district tournament.

The bottom slot of the 3A Western Slope League district tournament might have been enough for some athletes to hang their heads down and expect a loss in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But, Moffat County High School boys basketball’s darkest-before-the-dawn motto this season continues to come through when they need it most.

Bulldogs improved to 10-10 for the year Monday with a 49-45 win in Gunnison, allowing MCHS to fight another day in the postseason.

The Dogs stood at 10th in the WSL rankings after weekend defeats to Delta and Cedaredge, facing a 10-hour round trip to meet the No. 7 Cowboys for a play-in game.

Though Moffat County’s total season record was far superior to Gunnison — which ended it 4-16 — the Cowboys’ 3-6 in the conference was advantageous enough to rise above the 2-7 Dogs, tied for league credit with 4-16 Aspen and 9-11 Cedaredge, the latter of whom beat the Skiers 55-47 Monday.

Still, it was the league loss of 60-56 when Gunnison came to Craig that served as enough of a driver for Moffat County, and the Bulldogs stayed in step with the Cowboys throughout the night, behind 12-11 in the first quarter and taking the lead in the second to make it 24-20 at halftime.

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The hosting team led 37-36 at the end of the third and had the minor lead to kick off the fourth until an eight-point Bulldog run put MCHS back in front 44-41 with less than two minutes remaining, keeping the Cowboys at bay long enough for the W.

“Our defense stepped up and made the plays we needed in the fourth quarter,” coach Eric Hamilton said. “The game was called pretty tight, so we had a lot of fouls, but the team dug in and got the win.”

Moffat County moves to the next stage of districts Tuesday to face No. 2-ranked Roaring Fork (17-2, 8-1) in Carbondale, the winner of which will play either No. 3 Delta (13-6, 6-3) or No. 6 Olathe (8-11, 3-6) Friday in Grand Junction.

“Time to prepare for a big battle,” Hamilton said.

MCHS girls basketball finished the season as the WSL champions and the top seed in districts. Lady Bulldogs will have their own grudge match in store at 6 p.m. Tuesday at MCHS, hosting Olathe after the Pirates’ 44-36 defeat of Basalt.