Summer sweat means winter strength for Moffat County basketball
While others are trying to cool off this time of year, Moffat County High School hoopsters are staying hot.
It’s been a busy summer for MCHS boys and girls basketball, and coaches Sam McLeod and Eric Hamilton have taken note of those athletes who have made the effort to retain and improve their skills in the sport.
McLeod’s girls were hard at work, particularly in June, as they committed to practice time at home and traveled to several tournaments, including a massive one at Colorado School of Mines, where the Lady Bulldogs last played during the semifinals of the state playoffs in March.
“We held our own against some great 4A and 5A teams,” McLeod said. “Our first tournament, we had a C-team, JV and varsity, and I don’t think I’ve ever had three full teams go to something like that.”
A second-place finish for the varsity squad at the Mid America Youth Basketball tourney in Denver was also encouraging, he added.
Coaching the boys, Hamilton most recently accompanied the boys at an MAYB event last week in Lakewood.
“It’s lot of club teams and AAU teams that join up together for these things, so I think we were the only high school team,” he said. “It’s always good to play somebody, see how they’re moving along, how they’re gonna click together, what you’ll need to focus on, a lot of good team time.”
Though he has not been able to attend as many camps or workshops this summer as he would have liked, Hamilton said he’s had little to worry about in keeping players on their game in the off-season, with many on the roster taking it upon themselves to prepare.
“These guys have done a lot on their own, an outstanding group of freshmen guys that love to play, and our seniors are really hard-working guys who have spent time in the gym, a lot of self-motivation, you can tell they’ve really worked this summer,” he said.
The boys have also scrimmaged with Rifle, Coal Ridge and Steamboat Springs, and Hamilton hopes to bring the Bears to MCHS for one more seminar.
McLeod said the setup for basketball in the summertime is tricky because participation cannot be mandatory, but “creating opportunities” with the help of parents is important.
“We played probably 20 games this summer, and the kids who did that had a pretty good growth opportunity,” McLeod said.
Open gym sessions have been frequent for both the boys and girls teams, though neither coach wants to step on the toes of fall sports. Rather, they view the kids who will be busy during the fall with football or volleyball as still in training, just with a different ball.
“I always encourage multi-sport guys, they’re in shape, they’re physical, and when they have a good football year like I think they will this year, they’re ready to move right in to a different sport,” Hamilton said.
Official basketball practices will begin in November with the game schedule starting in December.
“We have a pretty solid group coming back and exciting players coming up (from Craig Middle School), and we’re going to have some pretty solid teams at all levels ready to compete,” McLeod said.
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On a summer morning in southern Idaho, the day breaks early, before 6 a.m. The air is stale, never fully cooled from the heat of the day before.