Playing at home against Ouray High School on Feb. 7 in a game that almost nobody around the state expected it to win, the Dove Creek High School boys basketball team delivered its four best quarters of the season and walked away with a shocking 78-68 victory.
Among the Bulldogs’ many standout performers was junior Hayden Gray, who dominated the paint on both ends of the floor while delivering a team-high 30 points.
Also coming up big was quickly emerging superstar freshman Kade Hankins, whose knocked down midrange jumpers and sliced to the rim for 26 points.
“They played like I feel they can,” Bulldogs’ head coach Ty Gray said. “That’s what we’re looking for. We are young and we’ve experienced some ups and downs. Tonight was one where they came out and played like they could for four quarters.”
Ouray junior Jackson Leo, who scored a game-high 32 points, left the outcome in doubt.
Leo came out strong, scoring 11 points to keep his team in the game after the hot-shooting Bulldogs took a 12-10 after the first eight minutes of play.
Hoping to build on its momentum, Dove Creek looked to get the ball to Gray in the paint in the second quarter, and the junior responded by scoring 10 points as the first half concluded at 33-33.
“This was a good game,” Hayden Gray said. “I was able to work on some post moves, and I was able to be aggressive, but at the same time not get a foul every time someone touched me. I think this was my best game yet.”
As the second half got underway, Gray and Hankins continued to shoulder the offensive burden for their team and scored 13 of Dove Creek’s 15 points.
Although Dove Creek outscored Ouray 30-24 in the fourth quarter, Leo pushed the Bulldogs’ defense to the limit in the final eight minutes, draining off-balance jumpers and slicing for athletic layups. However, the junior’s exploits were not enough as Dove Creek sophomore Chorbin Cressler came through with several nice defensive plays to help his team hold on for the victory.
“We finally came out and did something good,” Cressler said after the contest. “We played together, we kept our heads, and we didn’t’ lose anything out there.”
With its record now at 4-11 overall and 1-5 in the SJBL, Dove Creek will look to maintain its confidence and build on the momentum when it travels to face Durango High School’s junior varsity on Feb. 11.
Dove Creek then will return home for a key conference game against Ridgway High School on Feb. 15.
“(Beating Ouray) was good for our confidence, and it was good for our standings in Districts,” Hankins said. “Hopefully we can keep on winning.”