By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
Although Laurel Mortensen didn't need to make her last-second free throws Saturday night at the Moffat County High School gym, it really didn't hurt.
The Lady Bulldogs had their game against the Basalt Longhorns well in hand by the end of the fourth quarter, and Mortensen's free throws in the waning seconds allowed them to coast to a 58-50 home win.
Before the fourth quarter, the Lady 'Dogs had been stuck in a game of catch-up against the aggressive Longhorns.
A mixture of full-court press and tenacious defense, along with the Lady 'Dogs tendency to turn the ball over, left the girls enduring a stampede of Longhorn baskets.
"We knew they were a good team heading into the game," senior forward Jessica Norman said. "Once we got into the game, Basalt played much better than we expected."
The game began well for the Lady Bulldogs (4-2), but that only lasted for the first few minutes. Senior forward Katie Telfer opened the game with an easy lay, but after that, the Longhorns turned it on.
Pressing the Lady 'Dogs the entire first quarter, the Longhorns (7-1) were able to create a multitude of turnovers, and capitalize ending the first quarter with a 15-12 lead.
The second quarter saw both defenses begin to tighten, with neither allowing a score for the first three minutes.
Senior guard Amber Sanchez changed all of this by driving the lane for two points.
Charlotte Steele was able to close the gap by hitting a wide-open three-pointer, bringing the game to 19-17.
The game began to fall into the Lady Bulldogs' hands halfway through the second quarter, after once again falling behind by three points.
Coach Debbie Alcorta then drew the first of two Longhorn technical fouls for arguing a call.
Mortensen drained both of the free throws making it a one-point game 21-20.
With the Lady 'Dogs sniffing a comeback, the Longhorns once again lit up the board, with sophomore Autumn Caughern draining two three-pointers, and senior Molly McGrath following up with another.
The game went into halftime with the Longhorns leading 31-22.
"We really weren't making good decisions in the first half," coach Craig Mortensen said. "They came out and played hard, and used their guards well. Their guards are probably the quickest we've seen this season."
The Lady 'Dogs began a stingy defensive attack that was able to break the Horns' press, producing and reducing the 11-point difference.
Norman and Sanchez ran the show early on in the third quarter, with Sanchez breaking the ice with a basket in the first minute
Norman also drove the lane for back-to-back lay ups bringing the score to 33-28.
Sanchez scored her second basket of the quarter in the last two minutes of the third, driving the paint, and making it a one-point game.
The Lady 'Dogs were able to tie the game at 41-41 in the first minute of the fourth quarter before taking off on a 19-point scoring run, while only allowing the Longhorns only nine.
Five of those 19 came in the last 20 seconds, with Telfer and Mortensen taking a combined three trips to the line.
"Our nerves hit us when we first came out," Sanchez said. "We let them set the pace early in the game, and it took us a half to get into our rhythm. It was another eye-opener for us, we just can't go into games expecting the win we need to play our game."
Though the game was an eye-opener for the Lady Bulldogs, they did have four girls in the double digits with Mortensen scoring 15 points, Sanchez scoring 12 points, Norman scoring 11 points, and Telfer adding 10.