Once the Dolores Bears get rolling inside, they’re awfully difficult to stop.
Riding the strength of a hefty rebounding advantage, the Dolores boys basketball team pulled away from Dove Creek in the first of its annual meetings on Tuesday, winning 67-24.
The Bears (3-1) looked to continue the momentum built in their season-opening consolation finish at the Sangre de Cristo Thunderbird tournament, where their offense lit up the scoreboard.
For eight minutes, though, Dove Creek (0-3) gave the much larger Bears everything they could handle. A pair of three-pointers from Hayden Gray and Kieron Huskey kept the hosts within one at 9-8 late in the opening quarter.
From there, however, junior Dakota Smith took over the glass, and superior interior play from Dolores dictated the rest of the half.
A right wing three-pointer from Smith ballooned the lead to 30-12 midway through the second quarter, and by the time the dust cleared, the Bears had sprinted into the locker room with a 40-15 lead. Smith accounted for half the visitors’ first half tallies.
In the second half, Dolores junior Tristen Swagerty picked up right where Smith left off. He put together a series of highlight reel drives to the rim, and finished with 14 points.
While the Bulldogs were limited to just six field goals on the night, they did find success attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. Gray led the way for the Bulldogs, finishing with nine points, and Huskey added five.
Dolores head coach Larry Schwartz liked what he saw from his team in the decisive second quarter. “We’ve got a lot of offensive weapons,” said Schwartz, referring to Smith’s game-high 22 points, “but we also missed a number of shots tonight.”
Eleven different players scored for the Bears.
The Bears know that they’ll need to refine their offensive efficiency in the coming days. “We’ve got a tough week ahead,” cautioned Schwartz, with a gauntlet three-game stretch coming up. The Bears face off with Sargent this weekend, before home dates with perennial powers Ignacio and Del Norte next week.
“We’re happy to be 3-1, and hopefully we can play well in these next few games,” he said.
In the loss, Dove Creek head coach Ty Gray felt his team made some big strides against tough competition. “We’re starting to figure things out,” said Gray, “the effort is there.”
Gray recognizes that this kind of contest offered opportunities for growth. “We’re still learning how to be in the right positions, but we’re coming around, especially on the defensive end.”
The Bulldogs look forward to a week of practice before their next outing, a trip to Ouray next Thursday.