The only reason that the Moffat County High School girls basketball team is listed at the top of the Western Slope Conference right now is that 'M' comes before 'R' in the alphabet.
The Rifle Bears sit at 4-0 in the conference, as do the Bulldogs. In fact, both teams have the same record of 8-3. In addition to the same winning percentages, there are many similarities in the teams' records. Both have lost to Grand Junction Central by five points, both teams have beat Fruita-Monument, Battle Mountain, Delta and Palisade.
Friday night the similarities will be changed.
For the second game in the row both teams face undefeated conference opponents. Rifle passed its first test with a 52-33 clubbing of Glenwood Springs last week and Moffat County sent Steamboat Springs home with its first loss, 54-41, last Friday.
Before the beginning of the season Moffat County coach Craig Mortensen predicted that if Moffat County didn't win the conference it would be because of the Bears.
"They return a lot this year," he said. "They return four starters and they are a well coached team."
The Sailors were sunk by trying to guard Bulldogs senior Laurel Mortensen, who burned them with 29 points. Coach Mortensen said he expects to see a man-to-man defense again.
"It will surprise me if they aren't in man," he said.
"If they do throw a zone or some sort of junk defense we'll just have to make enough shots to keep their defense honest.
"If I were coaching against us I would chose one of two things," he said.
"I would either focus on shutting Laurel down or focus on shutting the rest of us down."
The Bulldogs focus this week has been to keep focused. Coach Mortensen said he has emphasized that his girls need to avoid a low after the high of defeating their rival.
"We will hit a low in the season if we go down to Rifle and lose." he said.
"They are a team that is capable of beating us."
With a game at home on Saturday against Glenwood Springs, Moffat County will complete its first time through the conference. The game Friday is approximately 6:00 p.m. in Rifle and Saturday the home game starts at 6 p.m.
Mortensen Athlete of the Week
Senior Laurel Mortensen was named the Rocky Mountain News Athlete of the Week for her 29 point performance against Steamboat Springs last Friday.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org