The disparity between the Moffat County girls basketball team and the rest of the Western Slope League is at least 20 points.
The Bulldogs proved that this weekend with 20-point wins against Glenwood Springs and Rifle, the teams with the next-best records in the league.
"I don't foresee Moffat County winning by less than 25 points the second time around in the league," Rifle coach Jack Smith said. "They have a distinct advantage because they have better shooters, better defenders, and there's no way to defend their big girl."
The "big girl" is Moffat County junior Cayla Maneotis. The 6-foot-5-inch center scored 19 points and had six blocks Saturday in a 61-41 win against the Bears.
The bad news for the Bears is that Moffat coach Craig Mortensen didn't think his team played that well.
"We've played so many games and one night you're going to be off," he said. "I thought maybe that was tonight."
To credit the Bears, Mortensen said he thought Smith played his team in a way no one else in the league had.
"(Rifle) played us the smartest any team has," he said. "They recognized what they had to do by spreading us out a little when we were in man-to-man."
The Bears played offensively on the perimeter in the first quarter and drove on the Bulldogs' post players. It put Moffat's leading scorer, Markie Workman, in foul trouble and forced Maneotis to play on the perimeter.
"We had to go to a zone, and we're not as used to that," Mortensen said. "We had a couple of communication breakdowns early."
The Bulldogs led 14-10 in the first quarter, but opened up the lead 33-21 in the second quarter. Then, a 10-2 run in the third quarter sealed a win for the undefeated and No. 5 in Class 4A Bulldogs.
"We didn't complete scoring plays," Smith said. "We can learn from Moffat because they complete their plays consistently."
The Bears were 16 seconds from not making any field goals in the third quarter, but they hit two shots in the final ticks of the quarter. The Bears finished with eight points in the third quarter.
No Rifle player was in double digits, with junior Kristin Guettler scoring a team-high of eight points.
The Bulldogs are 7-0 in the league and 15-0 overall.
The Bulldogs are their own challenge the second time around in the league.
"We have to have perfect practices," Mortensen said. "My job is to make practice harder for them mentally. We have to stay sharp."
The league title pales in comparison to the Bulldogs' overall goal.
"This is one of the best teams I've had, and I think it is a level above the rest of the league," Mortensen said. "The thing about this group is that there is a higher objective."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.