Starting the season as the highest-ranked team in the Western Slope Conference - No. 5 in the state in 4A - while compiling a record of 27-1 in league play the past two seasons, Moffat County looked to an out of state tournament for some early season competition.
The Bulldogs finished second in the team's first taste of hoops this year, winning two games Friday before falling Saturday in the title game of the Uintah tournament in Utah.
The Bulldogs blew through the early competition Friday, defeating Ogden High School, 54-23, behind the 31 combined points of seniors Angie Charchalis and Markie Workman. Charchalis led the team with 18, Workman had 13, and junior Ariel Sanchez pitched in with seven points off the bench.
Moffat County then took advantage of Uintah, handing the tournament host a 70-22 deficit in front of their home crowd.
Charchalis tallied 21 points, Workman had 18, and Courtney Edington chipped in with eight points in Game 2.
"Obviously we were a lot better than the first two teams we played," coach Craig Mortensen said. "We controlled both games well. We were especially smart on the defensive side of the ball."
The Bulldogs looked good offensively in the half court and on the run.
"We got some easy baskets when pushing the ball," Mortensen said. "But, we also worked the set half-court offense well, too."
Saturday's final didn't bode so well for the Bulldogs.
Moffat County lost, 63-55, to Wasatch High School, the defending Utah 3A state champions.
Charchalis once again led the Bulldog's scoring attack, dropping in 25 points.
Workman totaled 15, and senior Jorgiea Raftopoulis contributed six.
Mortensen pointed to missed free throws and the need to distribute the ball better as reasons for the tournament ending defeat.
"The game was tied up until the last two minutes," Mortensen said. "They hit a bucket, and free throws made the difference down the stretch."
The loss won't count against Western Slope League standings, and Mortensen sounded pleased with the tournament results despite not capturing the championship.
"It was a typical first weekend," he said. "It was good to lose. It's what we need. Rather than just blow teams out, it gave us a chance to see what we need to work on."
Moffat County will have the next nine days off until Dec. 14, when the Bulldogs host Fruita Monument High School in their home opener.
John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org