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Hotchkiss' record best since 2010 campaign

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Photo courtesy Joseph Harold Hotchkiss' Eli Sawatzky (15) defends the rim against Del Norte's Charlie Hayes (35) during regional play at Western State College University last Friday night. The Bulldogs held a lead in this game but could not keep momentum

Under second-year head coach Eric Hollembeak, the Hotchkiss Bulldogs ended the basketball season with a 16-7 overall and a 9-3 record and in fourth place in the 13-team 2A/1A Western Slope league. That is the Bulldogs' best record since the 2009-2010 season when Hotchkiss posted a 19-5 record and qualified for the 3A state tournament. During the regular season the Bulldogs averaged just over 56 points per game and outscored their opponents by 254 point, (1,292-1,038).

They lose three seniors, including starters Gabe Rodriquez, who averaged 5.5 points per game during the regular season, 6-5 center Zack Allen, who averaged almost 12 points per game; and Mario Espinoza. The Bulldogs have six juniors on the varsity roster, including Sam Rodriquez, who led the team in scoring during the regular season with almost 16 points per game; Jonathan Gonzalez, who averaged almost five ppg; Eli Kirk, who averaged 3.3 ppg; Chandler Widner with 0.6 ppg; Eli Sawatzky with 3.2 ppg; and Braxton Trujillo, who averaged 6.6 ppg. The varsity squad also included sophomores Cesar Camacho, Eli Patrick and Jacob Stucker.

On Feb. 25 the Bulldogs placed third in 2A District 5 competition on a 59-48 win over Plateau Valley. Hotchkiss advanced to the regional playoffs seeded eighth in the state. Its season ended with a semifinal loss Friday to Del Norte at Gunnison High School. The Bulldogs weren't able to gain the upper hand against the Tigers from the start, and trailed, 23-20 at halftime. The Tigers led by 10 points late in the third, and in the fourth the Bulldogs found themselves in a 13-point hole in the final minutes of the game.

Hotchkiss managed at one point to narrow Del Norte's lead down to seven points, but the Tigers had a scoring binge in the final minutes, defeating Hotchkiss, 56-43.

Photo courtesy Joseph Harold Hotchkiss senior Zack Allen finds some room for a shot against Del Norte’s Jeff Stevenson during game action of last Friday night’s regional semifinal game in Gunnison. The Bulldogs eventually fell to the Tigers, 56-43, thus ending their season. Hotchkiss had its best season since 2010 as the Bulldogs finished 16-7 overall and 9-3 in league play.
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