Keeping it simple

Bulldogs won't change much for semifinal game


Pop quiz: What can you sit on, sleep on and brush your teeth with?

Think long and hard before reading on.

Give up?

The answer: A chair, a bed and a toothbrush.

Chances are, the answer was a lot simpler than you thought.

That's why Moffat County (25-0) coach Craig Mortensen put that quiz on the practice sheet for Tuesday's practice. He wanted to emphasize simplicity as his team approached a Class 4A Colorado State Basketball Tournament semifinal showdown with Regis-Jesuit.

"We're focusing on the fundamentals," Mortensen said. "We can't change things because of the team we face. We have to keep it simple."

Regis, 23-3, has been ranked first in Class 4A all season. The private school in Aurora made it to the semifinals last year and lost there to eventual champion Sterling.

Mortensen said Regis is as good as advertised.

"They have mobile, athletic posts and quick guards," he said. "It's a great opportunity to play somebody that's really good."

Regis has four players who average in double figures and more players with aspirations to play D-1 basketball. The Raiders' two stars are returning all-state senior guard Katie Mihalco, who has signed to play basketball at the University of San Francisco, and senior post player Aija Putnina, who came to Regis last year from Latvia and has signed to play with the University of Colorado.

"We don't have any superstars but we have a lot of great players," Regis coach Carl Mattei said. "We've played the best of the best in Colorado this year by playing in the 5A Continental League. We don't know anything about Moffat and what they've faced."

Before the postseason, the Raiders didn't know anything about playing a Class 4A basketball team. The Raiders spent most of their nonconference season playing out of state and then they played in the Continental League. This is only the second year the private all-girls school has had varsity athletics.

"We don't have any of the tradition a team like Moffat County has," Mattei said. "I have girls from all over Denver on my team, where the Moffat team is probably made up of girls from the same town."

He's right, and Moffat County is a team that has pointed to this day for more than a year now.

After losing in the round of 16 last year, the Bulldogs set the goal of making the final four. At 4 p.m. today at the University of Colorado's Coors Event Center, that goal will become obsolete after tipoff.

"Maybe we didn't set our goals high enough," coach Craig Mortensen said. "Our new goal is the title game."

Mortensen used last year's loss to inspire and remind his girls of that objective this year.

Senior Mari Katherine Raftopoulos said she was tired of watching the tape of the 62-48 loss to Mullen.

"I hate the feeling when we watch that tape," she said. "It just brings back horrible memories."

Mortensen said his team didn't finish its plays in the Mullen game.

"We had nice dribble penetration, but then we didn't do anything with it," he said. "We would defend people for five steps and then stop."

Mortensen pulled out the tape before the Palisade game in the sub-region final, and after watching it, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 19-3 lead in the first quarter.

Mattei won't be using any tapes to inspire his team. He said he hasn't watched film of any team all year. His main goal is to get his team to focus.

"It's tough with Mullen, our rival, on the other side of the bracket," he said. "Everybody wants Regis-Mullen in the final, and our girls have heard that."

Mortensen was curious to see how Regis would approach the game.

"I have no idea what they'll think of us," Mortensen said. "The game starts zero to zero. Who knows what can happen from there."

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