Looking back at the month of December, two stats stick out at Moffat County High School girls basketball coach Craig Mortensen -- points in the paint and turnovers.
When the Bulldogs were playing well, the offense was going through post players Brandie Telfer and Erin Robinson, both juniors, as well as sophomores April Sanchez and Mari Katherine Raftopoulos. Telfer leads the team with 16 points per game and those four players have accounted for more than 70 percent of Moffat County's scoring (212 of 299 points).
While post play has been a strong point, turnovers have been the weak point. In the Bulldog's 45-52 loss to Fruita Monument, the Wildcats' full court pressure took Moffat County out of its offense.
"Turnovers are going to happen," Mortensen said. "But against Fruita we could never get set in our offense because we couldn't handle their pressure."
Despite problems handling defensive pressure, Mortensen still believes his team will be one of the best in the Western Slope Conference.
"In the past we've been a more balanced team," Mortensen said. "But we've been doing some things on offense that could be hard to stop in the league."
The Bulldogs have won 30 consecutive WSC regular-season games dating back to the 2000-2001 season.
The veteran coach knows that once the word gets out about the Bulldogs' post play, teams will collapse on them to try to shut the inside game down.
"We'll have to start hitting some outside shots," he said. "If we can keep turnovers down to around 15 a game then we should keep in games."
The Bulldogs are 4-2 after December, a record that Mortensen is pleasantly surprised with.
"Looking at what we had to face the first month before the season started I thought we'd be good to get two wins," he said. "But we had some good games that, if not surprised them, surprised me."
Mortensen thought that two of the best wins the Bulldogs earned were the 43-40 effort against Ogden, Utah, in the Vernal, Utah tournament, and against Evergreen, 66-34.
"Ogden will be a top team in Utah this year and we did a good job defending them," Mortensen said. "Evergreen was without its top player but I think we still could have beat the ranked team if she had played."
As the second part of the season begins the Bulldogs are in second place in the WSC behind Steamboat Springs' 5-2 record. Conference play will commence Jan. 9 in Palisade.
First for the Bulldogs is a trip to Grand Junction Saturday to take on the Class 5A Central Warriors.
"I haven't seen them play but I'm sure they're a very balanced team that can put some pressure on us," Mortensen said. "It will be another challenge for us in the front court."
Last year the Warriors gave the Bulldogs their only regular-season defeat from a Colorado school, winning a 64-59 shootout. Mortensen doesn't expect the game this year to be any easier.
"They're going to be tough to beat," he said. "It has been a good match up for us the past couple of years."
Mortensen said they can expect a fast-paced, well executed game from their opponents.
"We know what they'll bring and I'm sure they know what we bring," he said.
The varsity game begins at 4 p.m.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org