For three-quarters of Friday night's Moffat County High School girls basketball game, the Bulldogs lambasted Battle Mountain High School.
But when the game was over and the girls won 61-35, all Coach Craig Mortensen could think about was the first quarter.
Before the game turned into a one-sided whipping, the play was competitive. Battle Mountain scored 17 points, led by Mary Ramirez, who netted 12 of her 14 points in the first quarter.
Moffat County trailed by as many as six points before rallying in the quarter's last minutes to come within one point of the lead as they headed into the second quarter.
"I feel good about the win," Mortensen said. "But they were not ready to play in the first quarter. The other team comes out with enthusiasm. You need to squelch that in the first quarter."
All the same, the second quarter was all about squelching. The Bulldogs scored the quarter's first points, but Moffat County's Brandie Telfer responded with two points from the baseline and then two more to take the lead. Battle Mountain never recovered.
At halftime, as the Moffat County High School dance team took the floor, the Bulldogs led the game, 29-21. The 'Dogs held Battle Mountain to four points in the second quarter.
Moffat County's Mari Katherine Raftopoulos came alive following the halftime break. She led the Bulldogs in scoring with 15 points and shot three for four from the foul line. Raftopoulos was followed by Telfer, who scored 11, but only shot one for seven from the foul line. Erin Robinson pulled down 13 rebounds.
Turnovers didn't match the game's lopsided score. Moffat County had 23 turnovers, three less than Battle Mountain.
Raftopoulos scored the second half's first points to give her team a double-digit lead. Following a brief timeout, Raftopoulos scored two more, and then Sara Lybarger answered with a basket -- the first points a Battle Mountain player scored in a quarter's worth of play.
Raftopoulos promptly answered with two of her own. She rebounded her own three-point shot, drew a foul while attempting a layup and drained two from the line. Lybarger closed the quarter with a three-point basket to bring the score to 44-28.
By the fourth quarter, with Battle Mountain trailing, Mortensen began sending junior varsity players into the game. Battle Mountain's morale was low, as exemplified by Lauren Prewitt's slow gait when she trudged off the court after fouling out early in the final quarter.
The Bulldogs won by 26 points, and led by as many as 24 points for most of the quarter. As frustration mounted, Battle Mountain's players shot more air balls and let low passes bounce off their feet. They could not score against the Bulldog's junior varsity players, who Mortensen commended after the game.
"JV has got some kids who can really play," he said. "When we have the opportunity, they'll get in, and we can get more rest for the varsity."
Junior Emily Sperl scored the game's final points, cherry picking from far down the court.
Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.