If the Bulldogs have any one thing going for them this season, it's depth. Hotchkiss opened the season with a 55-44 win over Olathe, then defeated Gunnison in last Thursday's home opener, 47-22.
They lost Saturday to Vail Christian, 65-44.
"We're coming around," said head coach Kyle Crowder after Thursday's win. There are still some personnel issues to work out, "But it'll be nice to be playing 10 or 11 guys."
There are still some mistakes to clear up, too. While they led 27-9 at the half, Hotchkiss got into foul trouble and shot 50 percent of its first-half free throws against Gunnison. With only five field goals, its second-half shooting lacked direction. But it's kind of hard to play that focused with such a big lead, said Crowder.
Of the Bulldogs' 11 varsity players, seven are seniors. Against Olathe they started Taylor Schreiner, Mason Oxford and Tye Bayles and sophomores Andrew Tiedeman and Wes Hardin, "And they played so well that I couldn't take them out of the starting lineup" against Gunnison, Crowder said. Starting players combined for 30 of the team's 47 points against Gunnison.
Despite limited time on the court, Jacobe Galley scored 10 points. Hardin added eight, including two 3-point shots within 30 seconds of each other in the third period. Schreiner also contributed eight points.
Crowder said his players all understand that it's not who starts or who finishes, but who works hard for the team that matters. And everyone's working hard. "Right now everybody's fighting for those (starting) positions ... It's good. It's nice to have a bunch of guys who are not selfish. They're just there for the right reasons."
Schreiner, a three-year varsity player, said he's enjoying a little time on the bench after last season. The Bulldogs had talent, but little depth, and ended the season with a 6-7 record in the Western Slope League. One of their starting seniors missed the first part of the season after having knee surgery.
"It's pretty nice to be able to sit on the bench and still watch us win," said Schreiner after the win over Gunnison. "Last year we didn't get much rest."
Hotchkiss held the Cowboys to single-digit scores in each quarter. Gunnison managed only three first-period points and trailed 27-9 at the half. Schreiner said he was surprised by the point spread, since Gunnison won both of its games last season.
Chris Allen, a 6-foot-4 junior, played two quarters of solid defense with only one foul against Gunnison. This was his first basketball game. "Nine practices," said Crowder, "it's all he's ever done in his entire life. By mid-January he could definitely be there."
Schreiner said that this year's team has as much talent as it had when he was a freshman. That year the Bulldogs were 13-3 in the WSL. It was the last year the Bulldogs made the state playoffs. Despite the 11-point win over Olathe, it was a tough game, but it allowed the team to get past their early-season jitters. "We've got all the pieces, we've just got to figure out how to put them all together."blog comments powered by Disqus