The other teams must have thought they were crazy. But members of the eighth-grade girls basketball team were just being themselves when they yelled out "Mongoose" during games this season.
"They are a fun group," coach Alicia Townsend said. "There was never a bad attitude towards what we were doing."
During practice the team would play "Mongoose Stands Alone," which was a free throw contest. When they prepared to shoot a free throw in a game someone would yell "Mongoose" to remind them about proper shooting technique.
Their shooting technique worked well this year as the Bulldogs went 10-1. The final two wins of the season came last weekend in the district tournament. The Bulldogs won the championship with victories over Steamboat Springs and Rangely.
The Bulldogs were looking forward to a showdown with Meeker in the championship. The Cowgirls were the only team to beat the Bulldogs during the regular season. But Rangely upset the Cowgirls in the first round of the tournament.
"Rangely really came to play in the tournament," Townsend said. "When we played them we never really felt like we had the game wrapped up."
In the championship game the Bulldogs won 30-20 to sweep the district title in their middle school careers.
"This group has some good balance," Townsend said. "They have solid post players and good ball handlers."
Their coach said that one of their biggest strengths was their ability to understand the game.
"They always figured things out for themselves after I said it once," she said. "They understood the motion offense and they have a good overall idea of basketball."
Seventh-grade coach Norm Yoast also credited his team with the ability to pick up the game.
"This is their first year of organized basketball and they learned fast," he said. "We changed things up on defense before the tournament and they responded perfectly."
The Bulldogs went into the district tournament with three losses in the regular season. Two of those losses came against Meeker.
A 1-3-1 defense surprised Rangely in the first round of the district tournament. The Panthers only hit one shot from the field in the game and the Bulldogs prevailed 15-6.
Yoast said he saw Meeker's coach preparing her team for the 1-3-1 defense. He switched back to a man defense.
"When they adjusted at halftime for the man defense, we switched back to the 1-3-1," Yoast said. "It kept Meeker off-balance and we were able to get the upset."
The Bulldogs pulled away from the unbeaten Cowgirls in the second half 43-24 to win the district title.
Yoast said his team had no problem with defense all season, but he hoped that over the summer they would work on their shooting.
"We need to work on hitting some baskets," he said. "They rebound and play defense good. The shooting needs some work."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 ext. 211 or firstname.lastname@example.org