After a successful 16-7 season and a regional tournament win, the Hotchkiss Bulldogs appear to be headed into another great year.
In their Nov. 30 season- and home-opener the Bulldogs posted a 77-27 win over Nucla. The Bulldogs took a 29-4 lead in the first quarter and held the Mustangs to single digit scores in three of four quarters.
On Friday Hotchkiss had to work hard for its 31-28 win over Ridgway at the two-day San Juan Basin/Western Slope League Shootout at Paonia. The Demons held a narrow lead throughout the first three quarters. Jonathan Gonzalez swished a three-pointer buzzer shot to narrow the Demon lead to three points. Early in the fourth, Sam Rodriguez sank another three to tie the game at 20-20. The game ended on a free throw by Braxton Trujillo with less than 10 seconds remaining.
"It was a good game," said head coach Eric Hollembeak. "We didn't shoot particularly well, but when that happens, you'd better play tough defense, which we did."
On Saturday the Bulldogs topped Norwood, 62-21.
Hotchkiss has seven seniors on the roster. Now in his third year as a varsity player at Hotchkiss, Rodriguez averaged almost 16 points per game to lead the team in scoring last season. Gonzalez, Braxton Trujillo, Eli Sawatzky, Eli Kirk, Miles Zoutte and Chandler Widner make up the remainder of the senior class. They are joined by juniors Eli Patrick, Marvin Guereque, Cesar Camacho and Jacob Stucker, and Jesus Macias.
Sophomores are Evan Mattison, Brian Gonzalez, Will Scarlett, Hunter Bryant, Zack Ziemer, Jacob Palecki and Malykai Klaseen; Kenny Drbohlav, Oliver Mendoza and Yahir Chavez represent the freshman class.
Assistant coaches are Paul Rodriguez and James Parks. Hotchkiss kept in shape over the summer with open gyms, the 25th annual summer team camp, and a trip to the Western State camp in Gunnison. It was a fun summer, said Hollembeak.
Hotchkiss has just five home games remaining this season. Its next home game is on Jan. 6, when it hosts Plateau Valley. The Bulldogs compete Dec. 15 and 16 at the annual First Colorado National Bank tournament before heading into the winter holiday.
The Bulldogs open conference play Jan. 5 at Caprock Academy in Grand Junction.