D’EVELYN – The Montrose High School boy’s basketball team kicked off the season at the D’Evelyn Tournament in Denver last week. Facing tough 4A competition, the team finished with two wins and three losses and invaluable experience for the coming season.
The Indians first faced off against tournament host, D’Evelyn, on Thursday (Dec. 1). Despite the team’s strong offensive performance, they lost 94-72 in a high-scoring game. Head coach Martin Maloney attributed the loss to D’Evelyn’s depth of experience compared to his own squad.
“We made a fair number of mistakes, but the good thing is they are easily correctable,” he said.
The following day the boys defeated Roosevelt High School in a tough, tight game according to Maloney. The Indians earned their first victory of the season by 8 points. Compared to the previous game, the team gave up fewer baskets as well, thanks to tighter defense. Nathan Hawley was the high scorer, putting up 30 points in the 82-74 victory.
The win carried Montrose to a consolation championship on Saturday against Niwot. The Indians took this game by 19 points, but it was a close contest through the first three quarters. At halftime, Montrose was only ahead by 1 point, and the score remained tight until the final quarter. The Indians rode a last-quarter offensive surge to win 75-56.
For eight of the 10 boys on the squad this tournament was their first varsity experience, according to Maloney. However, the team improved on both offense and defense throughout the tournament, lowering the points allowed each game and using their offensive strength to take their wins.
“We are pretty inexperienced as far as varsity level experience, and I think that impacted how we started. We started playing with more confidence and I think that showed,” Maloney said.
The team accomplished their main goal at the tournament, which was to gain that invaluable experience by playing a variety of teams on the Front Range. The Indians were able to test themselves against teams they do not normally play, other than in playoffs. According to Maloney the competition met his expectations.
“Tournaments like this give us a chance to see what we will be facing if and when we make it to playoffs. We see the physically strong teams that are widespread on the Eastern Slope,” Maloney said.
Physical play was definitely apparent in the games, especially against Roosevelt. Montrose had 25 fouls and Roosevelt had 23. According to Maloney, the officials called the infractions tight, and hindered the flow of the game. Unfortunately the strict whistles threatened to foul out Hawley and Brad Warren. But this did not slow the Indians for long.
Hawley was a huge offensive force at the tournament. He was high scorer for all three games. Maloney attributes Hawley’s success to his work in the off-season. The 6’5” senior averaged 30 points a game in the tournament and is obviously a tough for other teams to guard.
“He can shoot over shorter guys, get around bigger guys and take them to the post. The hard work he put in is showing results now,” Maloney said.
Although Hawley is an important factor in Montrose’s offense, the team is not unbalanced. Maloney recognized Angelo Youngren for his ability to set up offensive plays as the point guard, and Cameron Jones for contributing his offensive and his athleticism. Brad Warren was also credited for playing strongly on the wing, guarding and rebounding.
Maloney believes the team works well together because the players are very unselfish, which is critical for success. “The other team’s defense cannot focus on one particular player. We have a lot of different options, which is important for success at the 4A level,” Maloney said.
The Indians will travel to another tournament this weekend in Steamboat Springs. Montrose will play Green River first in the tournament, and hope to continue improving their squad by playing unfamiliar teams. With experience, the team could be a strong contender throughout the season.