The Moffat County High School girls varsity basketball team opened its season against Utah's top 5A teams at the Uintah Tournament Friday afternoon in Vernal. The varsity 'Dogs swept the tournament 3-0 after opening with a 53-43 win against a tough Unitah team.
"The first game of the season made the girls nervous," Head Coach Craig Mortensen said. "They missed a lot of easy shots, but turned the game around in the second half."
The Lady 'Dogs' led 20-17 when the third quarter started. They took control of the game offensively and defensively in the second half and outscored Uintah, 33-20. The defense picked it up and challenged the Uintah offense.
"The defense played well and were quick," Mortensen said. "They helped each other out, which showed great teamwork."
The first-half jitters disappeared as the Lady 'Dogs' offense started hitting buckets, Mortensen said.
Laurel Mortensen started to heat up and scored nine of her twelve points in the second half.
"The offense was executing as the game went on." Mortensen said.
Uintah proved to be a worthy opponent, but fell 10 points short, losing 53-43.
The Lady 'Dogs' next game was against Wasatch, another 5A powerhouse, but the girls weren't fazed and they cruised by for another win. The final score was 54-43.
"We were not intimidated," said junior Amber Sanchez.
"Wasatch was a good team," Mortensen said. "They had a 6'2" girl and good guards."
The Lady Dogs had no problem handling the big Wasatch center.
According to Mortensen, the 'Dogs got her out of her comfort zone and wouldn't let her get into position. The guards distracted the passer, making it difficult to pass to the post player.
"We jumped right out from the beginning and built a 14-4 lead," Mortensen said.
The Lady 'Dogs had a two-point lead at halftime, 24-22, and the defense back in the third quarter to dominate the second half and outscore Wasatch, 30-21.
"Wasatch is a well-coached team," Mortensen said. "They made a late third-quarter run, and pulled within four points."
In the fourth quarter, the girls turned it up and shut down Wasatch's late-game scoring spree with tough defense, Mortensen said.
The Lady Dogs came down the stretch hitting 10 of 19 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Emily Mortensen was tied for all scores with 16. The 'Dogs won easily with a final score of 54-43.
The Lady 'Dogs played their last tournament game against Evanston, a 5A school from Wyoming. The Lady 'Dogs crushed Evanston, 61-40.
"The girls took control early in the game," Mortensen said.
Emily Mortensen had a great game, hitting seven three-pointers in three quarters.
"The girls knew who was hot and fed her the ball," Coach Mortensen said. "When somebody gets seven three-pointers, it is a team effort, and they knew she was hot."
The Lady 'Dogs dominated the game with tough defense and offense, shutting down Evanston on the sides of the courts, Mortensen said.
Emily Mortensen led both teams in scoring with 26 points.
The Lady 'Dogs had a great tournament, winning all three of their games by at least 10 points and showing what a force they will be this year.
"The team did well against 5A teams," Mortensen said. "I thought we were the toughest team there. We felt good about this weekend, but we have to keep working."
In practice this week, the team will work on physical conditioning, shooting, balancing the inside and outside game, and the post, Mortensen said.
The next varsity game will be at 5 p.m. Saturday against Roaring Fork at the Moffat County High School gym. The junior varsity will face the Cowboys at 6:30 p.m. today in Meeker.