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Strong start, two wins for 'Dogs on hardwood

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Photo by Eric Goold Hotchkiss guard Sam Rodriguez drives for a score during a preseason practice.

If the first two games are any indication, the boys basketball team from Hotchkiss High School can anticipate a strong season.

At the opening event of the year, the Bulldogs won both their games in a tournament at Ridgway last weekend and are off to a 2-0 start.

"The boys played really hard this weekend," Hotchkiss coach Eric Hollembeak said in an email to the DCI on Monday. "I really enjoyed their intensity and positive attitude."

On Friday, the Bulldogs recovered from a 16-12 deficit after the first quarter to lead 29-25 at halftime.

Hotchkiss secured the 63-35 victory over Norwood with a dominant second half performance, holding its opponents to just 10 points in the third and fourth quarters.

Senior Zack Allen paced the Bulldogs with 16 points. Sam Rodriguez scored 13 points, Jonathan Gonzalez had 12 and Gabe Rodriguez tallied 10 points in the Hotchkiss win.

Eli Kirk, Darrin Young and Mario Espinoza each had a bucket in the win and Braxton Trujillo scored six for the winners.

On Saturday, Hotchkiss beat the host Ridgway team 69-30.

The Bulldogs jumped ahead 15-8 after the first frame and led 28-14 at halftime. A strong third quarter performance saw the Bulldogs outscore Ridgway 27-10 and then Hotchkiss won the fourth quarter 14-6.

Sam Rodriguez was the leading scorer for Hotchkiss with 21 points in the win. Gabe Rodriguez and Allen scored 11 points apiece for the victors.

Nearly all the Bulldogs got registered points for the box score in the victory. Trujillo and Espinoza each netted five points for Hotchkiss while Gonzalez, Eli Patrick and Jacob Stucker scored four points apiece in the win.

Kirk and Young each had a bucket to round out the scoring for Hotchkiss. Eli Sawatzky and Chandler Widner round out the Hotchkiss boys roster this year.

The Bulldogs had good effort in the wins but it's early in the season and they still have things to work on.

"I feel that we still need to improve dramatically in all aspects of the game," Hollembeak said. "As long as they keep working hard in practice and continue to get better at the fundamentals, that should happen."

Hotchkiss hosted its first game of the year at home last night against Delta. They play at home tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. against Telluride, and then take on Ridgway in a rematch at the Hotchkiss gym on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

"This week should be a good test of our mental toughness and resolve," Hollembeak said.

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