By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
With one returning starter from last season and a 2-5 record so far this season, the Steamboat Springs Lady Sailors hardly seem worth a second glance.
However, Bulldogs Coach Craig Mortensen knows better than to avert his eyes from the cross-valley rivals.
Especially a week after having to fish out a win against Class 3A Basalt, a game in which the Lady 'Dogs trailed for three quarters.
When the Lady 'Dogs take the Steamboat hardwood Friday night, it's not the team they'll play that worries Mortensen, it's the rivalry.
"All the years I've been here, no matter who's the dominant team, there's always a game between Moffat and Steamboat," he said. "It doesn't matter who's got more talent, or who's got the better record, it's a game of emotion."
The level of emotion will be compounded by the second trip the girls are booked for, Saturday's match-up at Grand Junction Central.
After opening conference play against their rivals, the Lady 'Dogs square off against the Class 5A Lady Warriors, who have only one blemish on their record a 76-58 point loss at Denver's Heritage High School.
"This is the kind of weekend we want, Steamboat one night and Central the next, it will be good for us," Mortensen said. "It will be a lot like a tournament, with a lot of emotion and good teams."
When the Lady Sailors take the court against Moffat County they will do so with only one player familiar with the Lady Bulldogs system. Senior guard Emily Hines is the lone-Lady Sailor starter from last year's team, although she isn't the team's only weapon.
When the Lady Sailors look to the inside, they will look to their leading rebounder, Baily Stillwell. And when they look outside, Jenifer Webber will be the lady to beat, as she is reportedly Steamboat's leading three-point shooter.
"It's a good game for us to start conference with, because there will be a lot of emotion and should get the girls fired up," Mortensen said. "We can't overlook this team, they had a solid JV squad last year, and most of those girls will be playing varsity now."
It is obvious the Lady Sailors are suffering a down-season.
In the seven games they've played, they've managed to knock off two Class 3A schools West Grand and Aspen. The team has also lost against two 3A teams, and one 5A team.
Grand Junction Central Lady Warriors run the chance of being the toughest opponents the Lady 'Dogs have run into this season.
The Class 5A team has a roster full of shooters, and a bench that isn't afraid to chip in.
Of the 12 girls listed on the Lady Warriors' roster, eight of them have season totals in the double digits.
The leading scorer for the Lady Warriors is Nikki Koloff, who is a 60 percent shooter from the field. She is helped out by Mariah Niesianik, who doesn't carry the shooting average her teammate Koloff does, but has managed to score 72 points this season.
The final scoring threat to the Lady 'Dogs is Lindsey Kame, who has scored 36 of her 56 points from behind the three-point line.
"This weekend it's not Steamboat that's going to be the problem, it's going to be Central," senior guard Charlotte Steele said. "It will be a challenging game, but I feel we can win."