Throughout the week of practice there were a lot of girls playing the role of Palisade High School basketball player Krysten Hayes, and it was Moffat County High School's Mari Katherine Raftopoulos' job to keep her from scoring. When it came time for the Moffat County sophomore to face the real Hayes, she was ready.
"It was my job to keep her from getting open looks," Raftopoulos said about her assignment against a player who scored 33 points against Moffat County the first time they met. "I'm pretty happy with what we were able to do against her tonight."
Hayes scored 14 points Friday allowing Moffat County to win 52-46. It helped that Palisade's star was in foul trouble early and the home-court Bulldogs took advantage of the visiting go-to player being on the bench.
Moffat County out-scored Palisade 18-2 in the second quarter and opened up a one point lead after the first eight minutes, bringing them to a 27-12 halftime lead.
"We always have that one quarter where we can't score," Palisade coach Kelli O'Dwyer said. "That second quarter kept the game out of reach."
The Palisade point of view was that the second quarter kept them out the game and the home team agreed.
"We stepped up the intensity with our ball pressure that quarter," sophomore Jessica Uecker said. "That was one of our best quarters of the year."
In the second half the intensity wasn't there for MoCo and Hayes was there for Palisade. The maroon Bulldogs out-scored their blue counterparts 15-8 in the third quarter and 19-15 in the fourth.
"We made too many unforced errors down the stretch," Moffat County coach Craig Mortensen said. "With Hayes back in, we knew they'd make some sort of run."
Palisade inched within six, 46-40, with 2:54 remaining in the game. Then, after a two-minute scoreless stretch from both teams, Hayes was fouled shooting a three pointer and hit all three free throws to get her team within three with 47 seconds left.
Palisade got no closer as the rest of the game became the Brandie Telfer and Amber Sanchez Show from the free-throw line.
Telfer and Sanchez went a combined six-for-eight from the charity stripe and Palisade was unable to score again.
"When it counted, we did a nice job from the line," Mortensen said. "I saw some good things tonight that we've had trouble with before but there are some things to work on still."
Mortensen listed defensive rebounding as a weakness for his team Friday night.
"Palisade throws up a lot of shots and depends on offensive rebounds for its scoring," Mortensen said. "Tonight we didn't box off well and they battled back because of it."
O'Dwyer couldn't decide if her team played better Friday or in the teams' first meeting in Palisade, which Moffat County won, 60-54.
"I thought we played one of our best games that night," she said. "Both teams improved about the same since."
Moffat County had three girls in double figures. Telfer and Erin Robinson both scored 13 and Sanchez led the team with 14 points.
Today, Palisade will be in Steamboat and Moffat County will host Delta.
"We're starting to get more shots from the outside and we need that down the stretch," Mortensen said. "We'll see what (we) can comeback and do tomorrow."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.