Western Slope looks wide open | CraigDailyPress.com

Western Slope looks wide open

Bruce Tippets

The theme for the upcoming boys basketball Class 4A Western Slope season may be “It’s anyone’s championship for the taking,” and could set up an exciting season.

Teams in the conference are the Moffat County Bulldogs, Rifle Bears, Steamboat Springs Sailors, Glenwood Springs Demons and Delta Panthers.

A year ago, the Bears finished 14-7 overall and co-champions with Moffat County after the regular season. The Bulldogs downed the Bears in the title game, 54-49, at the district tournament to claim the crown outright.

“We graduated seven kids and so we are really young this year,” said Bears coach Roger Walters. “We don’t have any seniors and we will go nine deep. We will have three sophomores and six juniors.”

According to Walters, the Bears had a busy summer.

“We are pretty small again this year,” said Walters. “It will be interesting to see if we can compete this year. We have had some good practices and we had a really good summer. We played 27 games this summer and went 17-10. We have a good group of kids that work hard. We will just try and control the ball. I really think that Delta and Moffat County will be the top teams in the league.”

MCHS has lost much of its leadership.

“Last year, we graduated five seniors and four of them started the whole year for us,” said Bulldogs coach Blaine Corlett. “We had two kids in Kevin Voorhees, a junior, and Adam Peer, a senior, that alternated starting during the year. They both started their fair share of games.”

Corlett believes his team will be in the hunt again.

“I feel we have as good a chance to win the league as anybody this year,” said Corlett. “Delta will be tough. They have a couple of all-conference kids coming back. Our goal is to win the league. Ultimately our goal is the state tournament and we were one quarter away from that last year.”

The Sailors finished the regular season 12-9 overall and 4-4 in the league.

“Last year we came in third place and we were one game out of first place,” said Sailors coach Kelly Meek. “The last two years we came in first place.”

Meek said the Sailors will rely heavily on senior point guard David Marsh.

“We return one starter in David Marsh,” said Meek. “He is a top-of-the-line player. He will be the leader for our team. One of our inside players is Rusty Eck and he is 6-6. He will be one of our key guys inside.”

Meek believes the league doesn’t have a early clear-cut favorite.

“Our league is going to be wide open,” said Meek. “The league lost a lot of solid seniors from a year ago and so that will make it wide open.”

The Delta Panthers finished last year 12-9 on the season.

“We have a lot of experience that is coming back and we are pretty deep,” said Panthers coach Kurt Clay. “We have a bunch of seniors. We have five seniors on the team and five of them will start.”

The Panthers will look to push the ball up the court.

“We are a short team. We are going to run and get up and down the court,” said Clay. “Practice has been going well for us. We got the football players Monday for the first time and so that well help us.”

Clay believes the race for the league championship will be a three-team race.

“Moffat County and Steamboat Springs will be the teams to beat in the league,” said Clay. “We will be right up there as well. It’s going to be a pretty balanced league and it will be important to win games on the road.”

The Demons have a first-year coach in Roger Duroux.

“We are a young team and we have two seniors that are coming back,” said Duroux. “The rest of them will be underclassmen. We are small and so we are going to press and push the ball up the court. One of our goals will be to try and score as many points as we can. I have heard that Delta has a really strong team.”