Girls hoops dominate Mesa camp

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Wins during summer ball are commonplace for the Moffat County girls basketball team. But a buzzer-beater to win a camp championship doesn't come along as often.

The Lady Bul-l-dogs won the top division of the Mesa State College basketball camp Thursday in Grand Junction with a game-winning shot by camp MVP Mari Katherine Raftopoulos.

"M.K. drove to the basket with five seconds left and made the winner," Jessica Uecker said. "We all went to the middle of the court and jumped around. It was fun."

The Bulldogs defeated Pueblo South in the championship. The team went 10-0 in the tournament with wins against the likes of Class 5A schools Wheat Ridge and Dakota Ridge. Wheat Ridge was a state qualifier in 2005. Class 4A competitiors, South and Thompson Valley, were state tournament qualifiers last year as well.

"I'm pleased with what I'm seeing," coach Craig Mortensen said. "They're doing the things we hope for in the summer; coming together as a team and playing as a team."

By going undefeated, the Bulldogs finished with just two losses in three summer tournaments.

"I was curious to see how they would react after we graduated a first-team all-state player (Brandie Telfer)," Mortensen said. "The scoring has been well balanced this summer."

Balance is an aspect that Mortensen speaks of often. He said this summer's team has exemplified balance.

"We're hitting shots on the inside and outside," he said. "We have depth off the bench that can hit shots too."

The Bulldogs have four returning players who started at one time during a Sweet-16 tournament appearance season. With April Sanchez back after sitting out a year because of a knee injury, Moffat has five players with starting experience.

"April has been doing some good things for us," Mortensen said. "She is still gaining confidence to go on that knee but it will come along."

Uecker liked how the team was improving every game out.

"We played so much better than in the Craig Tournament," she said. "We set better screens and passed the ball better."

Today, the Bulldogs leave for a team camp at Adams State College.

"I like the camp format because we have a bunch of games in one place," Mortensen said.

The ASC camp will be the last team action until a July Mid America Youth Basketball tournament in Craig.

"I hope that the girls will work on individual fundamentals during the summer,' Mortensen said. "We want to see them get a lot of reps during open gym."

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