TELLURIDE – A long holiday break turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for the Telluride High School boys’ basketball team.
Before Christmas the team was harried, with star players injured and key positions left open due to illness. But last weekend the team returned to the court at 100 percent and easily handled the competition.
The Miners beat their Ridgway Demon rivals Friday night at home, and then posted an away win over the Mancos Bluejays on Saturday.
With the Minerdome packed on Friday night, senior Mike Matthews put on a show, sinking three-pointers and racking up steals. Fellow seniors Carl Schroedl and Ian MacCracken likewise added to the Miners’ score.
Head coach Mike Hughes said the three players are well aware that the team’s success is a result of teamwork, and not individual performances. “So much is made about scoring, which is very important, but without the contributions of everyone in practice and games, we would never have any success,” he said. “Ian, Michael and Carl are great leaders and really dynamic players, but they will be the first ones – being the great leaders they are – to tell everyone how well the younger kids have played. They have been the secret to our team’s early season growth.”
Hughes credited the equally hard work of players David Gerald, Kevin Doody, Austin Koenig, Austin Radford, Jarred Brown, Connor Reich, Spencer Zarr, Raul Toledo, Fischer Hazen, Austin Altman, and Roger Liljegren.
By halftime on Friday, Telluride had a commanding lead over Ridgway, 48-27, and continued to add to the score throughout the second half, giving the Miners an impressive 80-43 win at the buzzer.
The boys kept the ball rolling during Saturday’s game at Mancos, upending the well-coached Bluejays, 79-52.
“After playing in front of a great home crowd on Friday with an incredible pep band, I was concerned that we would come out a little flat,” said Hughes. “To the boys’ credit, they were very mentally and physically prepared and played great.”
Hughes and assistant coach Richard Hart remained cautious about their team’s prospects for the rest of the season. “I really have enjoyed watching their progress and relishing how far they have come as a true team,” said Hughes. “They are really starting to believe in each other.”
But the boys will face stiff competition in their next few games. Norwood, ranked fifth among 2A schools and coached by the legendary Doc Williams, and Ignacio (District Champion in class 3A last year) will test Telluride this Friday and Saturday. On Tuesday, the Miners will go head-to-head with Ouray, a team that handed Telluride one of its three losses last year and is led by returning all-state player Chris Blansett.
“All of those games are on the road, so it will really test the maturity and team dynamic,” Hughes said.