Craig Mortensen, Moffat County High School girls basketball coach, addresses his team in March. Earlier this month, Mortensen coached 10 of the country's top female basketball players in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association High School All-Star Game at Washington University in St. Louis. His team lost, 79-77, but that didn't prevent the coach from enjoying the experience.

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Craig Mortensen, Moffat County High School girls basketball coach, addresses his team in March. Earlier this month, Mortensen coached 10 of the country's top female basketball players in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association High School All-Star Game at Washington University in St. Louis. His team lost, 79-77, but that didn't prevent the coach from enjoying the experience.

Girls basketball coach discusses all-star game, future on the sidelines

The bad news: Craig Mortensen, Moffat County High School girls basketball coach, is on a two-game losing streak.

The good news: As of now, it looks like he'll be around next season to snap it.

On April 4, Mortensen coached 10 of the country's top female basketball players as head coach of the white team in the 20th Annual Women's Basketball Coaches Association High School All-Star Game.

His team lost by a bucket, 79-77, at the game's host site, Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

However, that didn't sour MCHS' longtime hoops boss. The coach said the experience meant more than the contest's outcome.

"That really wasn't even a bummer," he said. "There isn't a lot of coaching to it. You're really just (substituting players).

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To even get to (coach in this game) once is pretty fortunate. It really was a good time."

In March, the WBCA named Mortensen its District 7 Coach of the Year.

Mortensen came away from the all-star game impressed with the quality of talent. Many of the players participating have signed letters of intent to play at Division I schools next season.

"They're going to Notre Dame, Penn State, North Carolina, Southern Cal, Purdue, Stanford, UCLA," he said.

Two players - on opposite ends of the height spectrum - caught the coach's eye.

One was Brittney Griner, a 6'8 condor out of Houston, Texas, who played on the blue team. Griner, who has signed with Baylor University, was named to the 2009 McDonald's All-American team.

"She could legitimately dunk," Mortensen said. "And not just barely, but she can do every dunk. : She was just very, very athletic."

The other was Skylar Diggins, a 5'8 guard out of South Bend, Ind., who played for Mortensen's team. Diggins is heading to Notre Dame.

"She is just fantastic," Mortensen said.

The players also were impressive off the court, he said.

"They were all very respectful, very nice girls," Mortensen said. "Obviously, God blessed them with a lot of physical abilities, athleticism. And, the thing is they've also played a ton of basketball over the years. They were good, fun to be around."

With the game now over and Mortensen back home, the coach spoke Sunday about his future roaming the sidelines at MCHS. Specifically, he addressed the possibility of retirement.

MCHS' season ended in the state tournament's Sweet 16 to eventual undefeated state champion, Broomfield.

His retirement, he said, seems to come up at the end of each season lately.

"You know, that's been a rumor ever since my youngest daughter graduated five or six years ago," he said. "It's pretty common.

"I still have plans to coach, today. I still enjoy it. Right now, I'm still planning to. We're planning for next year. If and when I decide (to retire) I'll go about it the right way. I'll talk to my wife, my team and then everyone else third. : That's the order."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 875-1791, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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