Starting the season strong | CraigDailyPress.com

Starting the season strong

CMS seventh-grade basketball team wins Glenwood tournament

John Vandelinder

— The Craig Middle School seventh-grade football team wrapped up its season two weeks ago.

They overwhelmed the competition, finishing the season with a perfect 6-0 record.

The CMS seventh-grade basketball team is following in their footsteps.

The Bulldogs traveled to host Glenwood Springs Middle School on Saturday to compete in a six-team tournament featuring the top teams in the area.

It was a double-elimination tournament.

For head coach Ken Olinger and his boys, the two-loss format was of no concern to them.

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They didn’t lose once.

The Bulldogs swept through the competition claiming the season’s first tournament victory.

“We played really well,” Olinger said. “We beat a bunch of good teams. Teams we hadn’t seen before.”

CMS beat Glenwood Springs Middle School in the first round, 35-17, and defeated St. John’s Middle School, 40-18, to reach the championship.

“We played really good defense and moved the ball well,” Olinger said. “We used a zone in the full-court, then went to a man defense in the half-court. It was really effective.”

Going 2-0 in the winners bracket earned the Bulldogs a bye while they waited for their championship opponent to play an extra game.

Glenwood rose through the loser’s bracket for a rematch with the Bulldogs, this time with the championship at stake.

“They were the only team we saw of the six,” Olinger said. “That’s only because we played them in the first round.”

The familiarity with the opposition paid dividends for CMS, as they clinched the title with a 38-26 victory against the Demons.

“I was kind of surprised with how well they worked the ball,” Olinger said of his team. “Their spacing was great and they kept finding the open shots.”

Guard Paul Laliberte “found the open shot” frequently. He led the Bulldogs in scoring throughout the tournament, tallying 40 points in the three victories.

“I think ‘score first, then pass,'” Laliberte said. “I hit a lot of jumpers that tournament. I knocked down a couple of threes, too.”

Laliberte’s favorite player is Detroit Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups, and the seventh-grader is looking to earn a college scholarship in basketball.

His desired destination?

Michigan State.

“I play on a Gold Crown team in Denver, too,” he said. “I’ll be playing this game for a long time.”

CMS will face Rangely Middle School on Saturday.