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‘Rolling right now’

MCHS boys basketball team sweeps weekend

John Vandelinder

— Losers of 11 of its first 12 games, the Moffat County boys basketball team was searching for an identity.

First-year coach Steve Maneotis was confident the team was headed in the right direction, he just didn’t know when the team would take off.

This weekend, MCHS swept a pair of home games against visiting Palisade and Delta to vault into the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Slope League with three games remaining.

Saturday was the last home game for Moffat County’s four seniors, and the end result was its largest margin of victory in league play this year.

The Bulldogs (7-12 overall, 6-5 WSL) pushed a low-scoring first half five-point lead, into a 50-31 victory, for their sixth win in seven games.

The victory also surpassed last year’s win total of six.

“It’s huge for us,” junior Chayton Owens said. “It’s our first big win of the year. The rest of the league better be ready for us. We’re coming.”

The loss was the 13th in 14 games for the last-place Panthers (2-13 overall, 1-10 WSL).

“We got dragged into a physical-type game,” Delta coach Joe Mock said. “They took us out of our game and it got to us.”

Owens led Moffat County in scoring, tallying 15 points. Seniors Eli Buckner and Blake Najera each added 10.

“I didn’t think we played that well,” Buckner said. “But, we still blew them up. We are just rolling right now.”

On Friday, Moffat County rode a 17-3 first-quarter lead to a 72-69 victory against then fourth-place Palisade.

Owens bullied his way to 29 points in the post and Buckner added 17.

Maneotis believes the tough games in the beginning of the season have had a positive effect on his team’s climb through the league standings.

“I like to think the tough competition early has really built character on this team,” he said. “We found out what it takes to compete, and the kids have really bought into the system. Now, with these wins, they see it works.”

Notes:

The 19-point victory allowed Maneotis the opportunity to empty his bench for the first time this season in the fourth quarter : Junior guard Mike Peters and sophomore guard Pablo Salcido missed the weekend series due to personal issues : Moffat County made three 3-pointers earning $9 dollars for the MCHS athletic department as part of Bank of Colorado’s season-long program.

Junior Varsity

The MCHS junior varsity boys basketball team split its weekend home stand against visiting Palisade and Delta.

On Friday, Moffat County ran past Palisade, 55-34, behind 12 points scored by sophomore Jordan Wilson. Chris baker pitched in with eight and freshman Zach Raftopoulos added seven.

On Saturday. Wilson scored 16, but it wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs lost, 45-43, to Delta. Baker added eight points, and Dustin Carlson pitched in with six.

“We are progressing right along with the varsity team,” coach Justin Gallegos said. “We are mixing things up well and getting good looks at the basket. We want to climb back to even in league play before the season is over.”

Moffat County moved to 5-11 overall, 5-7 in league play with three games remaining.


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