Both Dove Creek and Mancos started the new year slow last Saturday night at Dove Creek High School.
But the visiting Bluejays finished strong in what coach Mike Glover called his team's best performance.
Every player scored for Mancos, as the Bluejays left Dove Creek with a resounding 77-37 win.
"It was a team effort tonight," Glover said. "It was fun. The boys played well. We had some real good ball movement out there and we took good shots."
Point guard Nigel Henry had a strong outing for Mancos (4-3, 2-1 2A/1A San Juan Basin League), scoring 18 points. Kyle Cox and Brandon Hood-Farley also netted double figures with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Mancos played without senior captain forward Branson Mitchell. Glover challenged his boys to step up and the Bluejays did.
"It's a nice win to have on the road and a nice win to have coming off the (Christmas) break," said Hood-Farley, a sophomore. "We worked on our press and we can still do better with that. But overall, getting the win tonight is what we wanted."
For Dove Creek (2-7, 0-2 2A/1A SJBL), it was another season speed-bump for an extremely young Bulldogs squad.
"We got out-hustled. We got out-rebounded," first-year Bulldogs coach Curtis Garver said. "There were little things that just didn't go well in the ballgame. But our kids played hard until the end of the buzzer. I'm proud to see that out of them."
Dove Creek trailed 13-11 after one quarter of play.
Then, Bulldogs guard Kyle Shultz came out firing in the second quarter. The freshman hit back-to-back 3-pointers to lift the Bulldogs in front, 17-13.
With the home fans in a frenzy, Glover called timeout.
Whatever the coach said worked, because Mancos responded with a 19-0 run to seemingly put the game away. The Bluejays clamped down on defense and forced turnovers, which led to layup after layup after layup.
Mancos led 34-19 at halftime and kept its foot on the gas in the second half.
The Bulldogs were limited offensively, especially from high scoring threat Jordan Ernst, whom the Bluejays constantly doubled.
"We put in a press and we were hoping it would give us some kind of an advantage, a different look," Glover said. "For having only three night of practice (after the Christmas break), I felt it really worked for us."
In the end, it was a long night for the home team and a satisfying bus ride back to Mancos for the Bluejays.
"The biggest thing, is to try to get the kids to play basketball," Garver said. "We need to try to get them to react to some of the stuff we've been teaching them. For them to take it from practice into a game, has been a struggle for us. I think we're coming along. They strive to get better."
Dove Creek travels across state lines to Monticello, Utah, to face the Buckaroos on Thursday at 7 p.m. in nonconference action. The Bulldogs are at Nucla on Friday at 7.
Mancos plays at Telluride on Friday at 7.