High league rankings gives Moffat County hoops edge to start district rounds
For the Craig Press
It’s a wrap on the regular season for Moffat County High School basketball teams, and though the coming matches will be higher stakes, the Bulldogs are just getting warmed up for big stuff.
The past week saw hoopsters on the road and at home, taking some big wins and also making a statement against a squad that’s been tearing it up this winter.
After decisive victories Feb. 8 in Carbondale over the Roaring Fork Rams that MoCo girls won 66-43 — junior Lizzy LeWarne outscoring absolutely everybody in a 22-point frenzy — and boys 78-57, a return to the Doghouse came Saturday as the guys prepared for their staunchest opponent yet this year, the undefeated Aspen Skiers.
With Aspen not fielding a varsity girls team, the day was a little shorter than usual, but Bulldog boys were ready, coming out with intensity and leading 15-9 after the first period.
However, things got a little uphill after that.
“The last two minutes of the second quarter, they went on a 6-0 run, we were up eight at that point but it swung a little momentum,” said boys coach Mark Carlson.
After hitting the break with a 24-22 halftime deficit, Aspen players found their footing from there, earning the 65-56 win and effectively claiming the 3A Western Slope League championship.
“We just had a few too many mistakes in a game against a quality opponent,” Carlson said. “But it showed our guys that we can compete at that level. It was just a good battle back and forth.”
In fact, Moffat men are the only team this season to lose by a single-digit margin to the Skiers. The Bulldogs also scored more points against the powerhouse than any other school in a year that Aspen has flattened all comers.
Seniors Jordan Carlson, Ryan Peck and Logan Hafey led scoring with 16, 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Tuesday saw both Bulldog teams end their regular schedule in Basalt, as boys took care of the Longhorns 55-48.
Hafey led in points with 15, Peck had 14 and a dozen were notched by Myles Simpson. Elsewhere on the stat sheet, Johnny Lopez came away with four steals, Nick Crookston had three blocks, and a big night underneath meant the third double-double of the year for Peck with 13 rebounds.
Boys finished league play ranked third at 6-2 while also garnering their best overall record since 2015, now 12-6.
The Bulldogs girls had little trouble that night, cruising to a 59-39 win, including a 21-10 final quarter that really helped them close it.
Coach Eric Hamilton noted scoring was spread out nicely, as seniors Rylie Felten (17), Halle Hamilton (13), Reese Weber (10), and Jacie Evenson (9) were setting the tone in points.
“Basalt played us pretty tough. We played pretty tight, had too many turnovers, but still managed to get a 20-point victory against a scrappy team,” Eric Hamilton said.
At 13-6 overall, MoCo girls look are primed to be the runners-up in the WSL battle, finishing behind only Delta in the conference.
Next up for both teams is the district tournament, and given their high standings, each will host Tuesday games, opponents for which will be finalized after this weekend.
“These girls are very focused for next week’s districts,” coach Hamilton said. “We look forward to getting everyone healthy and ready for a fun tournament.”
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