Craig Mortensen wanted to find a way to demonstrate intense defensive technique this week before the District 6 basketball tournament. His two recources were a miniature Twix candy bar and an assistant coach.
In preparing for the opening round game against Steamboat Springs High School, a top priority for Mortensen was to convince his Moffat County team to guard Sailors close. To demonstrate this he had an assistant coach hold a miniature candy bar in his mouth and one of the players take a bite out of the other end -- about two inches from the coach's face.
"We needed to realize we have to be in their face" Mortensen said. "Steamboat hit some big outside shots on us so we can't give any easy looks."
The main focus for the defensive drill was Sailors' senior, Erin Christensen. She made seven three pointers in the two games that the teams played, including the game winner in the teams' first meeting.
"She has shot well against us," senior Stephanie Brown said. "If we could have been in her face more the first time we may have won."
The rivals split the regular season meetings with each team winning at home. The Bulldogs won the latest meeting 49-42 Feb. 10.
"We're out to prove we're the better team," junior Erin Robinson said. "We believe we are, but neither team has the advantage because we split in the regular season."
In addition to more defensive pressure, Mortensen said that he hoped the Bulldogs could handle the ball better on the perimeter.
"We've won games when we've limited our turnovers," Mortensen said. "Getting the ball up and down the court and under control is big for us."
This is the first time in four years the Bulldogs have gone into the district tournament without the first seed.
That might not be a bad scenario for Moffat County.
They didn't win as the first seed.
"In the past we haven't had to play well in the first round to win," Mortensen said. "I think it made us a little sluggish the next night and teams have caught us. This year we have to play well the first night to win."
Some extra incentive might be that the Sailors upset the Bulldogs last year in the district tournament, but since only one of the returning starters are back for Moffat County, the girls weren't thinking about that game too much.
"We're more focused on revenge for our loss in Steamboat,"
The winner of tonight's game, which starts at 6:30 p.m. in Palisade, will play at 6:30 p.m. at Fruita- Monument High School, Friday. The loser will also play at the same time in Palisade.
The winner will face the winner of Palisade and Montrose. The Indians are the only ranked team in Class 4A in the district tournament. They come in with a 16-3 record.
"For once we might have a chance to be the upsetters," Mortensen said. "But Steamboat is first."
The other half of the district bracket is Rifle vs Battle Mountian and Glenwood Springs vs Montezuma-Cortez.
The top five teams in the tournament will move on to the Class 4A regional bracket, made up of 32 teams.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org