Grand Junction It took him 11 seasons to figure it out, but Moffat County girls basketball coach Craig Mortensen now knows what it takes to get his team to the state semifinals: make other plans for the week.
Earlier this year, Mortensen and his wife made reservations to watch their daughter Emily run in the NCAA Division II National Indoor Track Championships in Boston this week.
In previous years, he hadn't made plans to watch Emily because of the possibility of his team getting to the final four.
"If (making reservations) is what it takes, then I'm glad," Mort--ensen said after his girls defeated Harrison, 56-51, at Mesa State College's Brownson Arena on Saturday. "All three years, we held off just in case, but this year, we decided to make plans because it was Emily's senior year."
Now he's double booked, but he doesn't mind.
"If I have to fly out Friday night to get there, I will," he said.
A usually reserved Mortensen was pumping his fists during the last seconds of Saturday's game and jumped a couple times at the buzzer. He made it to the final four when he was a boys coach for the Bulldogs, but since taking over the girls in 1995, the closest they came was the round of eight.
"I'm just so happy for the girls," he said. "When I knew we had it, I celebrated. (The celebration) was probably showing some relief from other years when we were close but didn't go."
The win Saturday was No. 179 for Mortensen since taking over the girls program, but none was sweeter.
After the game, he reflected on how the girls' dream of reaching the final four started and ended in the same building.
"This is where the dream started this summer," he said about the girls team playing at the Mesa State summer camp. "We know this place and it has been like a second home."
Time to relish
Since the Moffat County girls played the last game of the night, the large contention of Bulldog fans had the court all to themselves after the game.
There were tears of joy and hugs of happiness. Family and friends took pictures with the regional trophy. The fans and team stayed on the court until the maintenance crew started to turn out the lights in the gym.
Everybody kept chanting, "We're goin' to Boulder," which is where the state tournament semifinals are held Wednesday.
"This is the best thing," sophomore point guard Angie Char--chalis said. "Everybody's so happy, and we still get to play."
Moffat County will play Regis-Jesuit at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Coors Event Center in Boulder. Regis advanced with a 49-36 win against Silver Creek. Other regional winners were Mullen and Greeley West.
If the girls win Wednesday, they will play in the championship game at 6 p.m. Friday in Boulder.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or email@example.com.