Heading into a road matchup against Dove Creek High School on Feb. 4, the Dolores High School boys basketball team knew that it would likely need to suffer some bumps and bruises in order to lock down a win.
With that knowledge in mind, the Bears took the court and overcame a gritty performance by the physical and tough-minded Bulldogs and walked away with a 52-38 win.
“Dove Creek is an aggressive, tough team, and they make you feel uncomfortable when you’re trying to shoot,” Dolores head coach Justin Schmitt said. “There’s contact and it’s an aggressive game. That was just enough to make us miss a bunch of (easy shots). We finally started shooting the ball better in the fourth quarter.”
In addition to the Bears’ ability to deal with the Bulldogs’ physical style of play, the maroon-and-black once again received a boost from junior Hayden Tallmadge, who knocked down two key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
The first of those came from the right wing with Dolores leading 35-29 early in the fourth quarter, and Tallmadge’s second long bomb found the bottom of the net on his team’s next offensive possession to give the Bears a 38-29 lead.
“I did it again,” said Tallmadge about his second consecutive impressive fourth-quarter performance. “I just carried (my confidence) in from last game and (my shot) felt good.”
Although the final result of the contest was not one that Dove Creek ultimately wanted, the Bulldogs did take solace that they were able to remain competitive with the Bears during the first three quarters of play.
A big reason for Dove Creek’s success was the scoring of freshman Kade Hankins, who dropped in 16 points, and the hustle of sophomore Chorbin Cressler, who scored five points and played with energy on both sides of the court throughout the game.
“Chorbin has stepped up the last few games,” Dove Creek coach Ty Gray said. “He has taken it on his shoulders to become the point guard on the team and the leader on the floor. He played with a lot of energy and hustle – you can’t ever fault that.”
Dolores, which improved its record to 6-9 overall and 3-5 in the San Juan Basin League, led 12-5 at the end of the first quarter and 25-19 heading into halftime. After weathering a spirited Dove Creek run during the first half of the fourth quarter, the Bears regained their composure and began the final eight minutes leading 35-27.
With its record now at 3-11 overall and 0-6 in the SJBL, Dove Creek will prepare for a home matchup against Ouray on Feb. 7. Dolores will travel to face Ouray on Feb. 8 before hitting the road for an all-important rivalry matchup against Mancos on Feb. 11.
“If we keep playing like we have been, we can take any team in the league,” Tallmadge said. “I think we’ll watch a lot of film and prepare for the different type of defense that (Mancos) runs.”