Over the course of three games at the Meeker Cowboy Shootout, Dec. 6-8, the Dolores High School boys basketball team was exposed to a physical brand of basketball that is seldom seen early in the season.
Head coach Larry Schwartz lauded the experience however, saying that the experience of playing hard-nosed basketball will serve his team well as it moves through what he expects will be a successful season.
“(In Meeker), they let you play a physical brand of basketball,” Schwartz said. “They just let you play, and the game goes on. It’s the brand of basketball that you see when you get to regionals and state, and I was real happy with that part of the tournament.”
Opening the tournament against the Lotus School for Excellence on Dec. 6, Dolores struggled on the defensive end and ended up on the wrong end of a 61-47 final score. Senior Tristan Swagerty led the Bears in scoring with 29 points and also pulled down 10 rebounds.
Senior Thaddeus Lee drilled both of his 3-point field-goal attempts and scored 6 total points. Neil Farias scored 4 points, and Trey Seekins and William Swagerty each scored 3.
“Lotus was really athletic, and they’re quick,” Schwartz said. Their guards were finding ways to get open. Overall, we’re improving defensively, but we rely on our athleticism too much. We need to work on rebounding and playing better defense.”
Playing its second game of the tournament against Aspen on Dec. 7, the Bears went toe-to-toe with their opponents for nearly the entire contest before falling behind late and losing 43-35.
According to Schwartz, the Bears’ ability to handle Aspen’s full-court pressure was a bright spot in the contest.
“Aspen was a big physical team, and we had trouble keeping them off the glass and out of the key area,” Schwartz said. “I thought our team played well though That game could’ve gone either way.”
Finishing out the tournament with a game against Rangely on Dec. 8, Dolores broke into the win column with a 52-44 victory. The Bears trailed 7-5 at the end of the first quarter before building a 20-16 halftime lead and outscoring Rangely 32-28 in the second half.
Schwartz said that several players stepped up in the victory, including William Swaggerty, who scored 9 points on three 3-point field goals. Several other players, including Farias, Kevin Purkat and Seekins played well.
Now 2-2 on the season, Dolores will look ahead to a matchup against Creede High School in Dolores on Dec. 14.
“The best part about the preseason is that these teams are teams that we’ve never seen before,” Schwartz said. “Creede has three guys that score really well and they hit the glass really hard. Our task will be to keep them off the boards.”