Moffat County High School senior Danette Crofts looks for an opening Saturday against a swarming Rifle High School defense. The Bulldogs took over the top spot in the Western Slope League, with a 58-47 victory against the Bears.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Moffat County High School senior Danette Crofts looks for an opening Saturday against a swarming Rifle High School defense. The Bulldogs took over the top spot in the Western Slope League, with a 58-47 victory against the Bears.

Bulldogs girls send Rifle to first league loss

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Game statistics

MCHS 45 Rifle 36

Score by quarter:

RHS (10-4): 16 (1st), 9 (2nd), 9 (3rd), 13 (4th), 47 (final)

MCHS (8-7): 19 (1st), 12 (2nd), 10 (3rd), 17 (4th), 58 (final)

Individual scoring:

RHS: Snyder 0 0-0 0, Wilkins 3 4-6 10, Pyle 1 0-0 2, Karr 0 0-0 0, Holgate 0 0-0 0, Cordova 5 1-1 11, Euler 5 2-3 12, Berner 0 0-0 0, Keithley 0 0-0 0, Samson 4 2-2 10. Totals 18 (2) 9-12 47.

MCHS: Bauman 2 4-5 9, Snyder 0 2-2 2, Edington 5 0-0 13, Sanchez 1 8-10 10, Hathhorn 0 0-0 0, Nelson 4 6-8 14, Moser 0 0-0 0, Crofts 1 2-2 4, Roberts 2 2-5 6. Totals 15 (4) 24-32 58.

Three-point baskets: Moffat County 4 (Edington 3, Bauman) Rifle 2 (Euler).

— Scoring one basket in the fourth quarter against a first-place team isn't exactly a recipe for winning.

But that's exactly what happened Saturday night for the Moffat County High School girls varsity basketball team against visiting league-leader Rifle.

The Bulldogs connected on 15 of 18 free throws in the game's final 8 minutes, pulling away for a 58-47 victory against the visiting Bears (10-4 overall, 5-1 WSL).

"What we are doing is taking care of the basketball," MCHS coach Craig Mortensen said. "We made them play our game. Once we had the lead, they were forced to foul us."

By handing the Bears its first Western Slope League loss, Moffat County (8-7 overall, 5-1 WSL) leapfrogged Rifle and took possession of first place in the standings.

"We needed to shoot the ball better," Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said. "The third and fourth quarter, they were coming out on us (defensively), and we couldn't make a shot."

MCHS senior Alicia Nelson led all scorers, finishing with 14 points, including 6 of 8 from the line. Bulldogs senior Courtney Edington connected from downtown three times on her way to tallying 13 points. Teammate Ariel Sanchez hit 8 of 10 free throws on her way to finishing with 10.

Rifle sophomore Ciara Euler led four Bears players in double figures, scoring 12 points. Cortney Cordova finished with 11. Makayla Wilkins and Sandy Samson pitched in with 10 each.

For two teams that pride themselves on defense, the first quarter didn't show it.

Wilkins opened the first-quarter offensive outburst less than 10 seconds in to the game, setting the tempo for what was to come.

A 3-pointer by Edington put MCHS up by 1. Rifle trailed until a rebound put-back by Euler put the visitors up, 10-9, and a bucket by Cordova pushed Rifle's lead to 3.

Back-to-back buckets by Edington - including her second 3-pointer of the frame - put the Bulldogs on top, 14-12. Moffat County stretched the lead to 5, but a runner by Samson cut the Bears' deficit to 3 at the end of the period.

Defense took over in the second frame, as the teams went scoreless for the first 3 minutes of the period.

A 3-pointer by Euler tied the game at 19, but Moffat County's Kylie Bauman answered with a 3-pointer of her own.

Cordova re-tied the game on a 3-point play, but the Bulldogs reeled off 8 consecutive points to steal the momentum before the half. Euler completed a 3-point play cutting the deficit to 5, but a free throw by Sanchez extended the home team's lead to 6 (31-25) at the break.

The pace continued to slow in the third quarter.

A basket and free throw by Sanchez pushed Moffat County's lead to 41-28 midway through the frame. A 3-pointer by Euler cut the Rifle deficit to 10, and a rebound-put back by the Bears' Samson cut the Bulldog lead to 7 entering the final period.

Notes:

Nike Cleverly didn't suit up for the varsity game after suffering an injury to her left ankle in the junior varsity game. : Lindsey Yoast (knee, whiplash and concussion) is battling injuries suffered last week and missed the weekend series. Mortensen said her return is questionable. : Danielle Kawcak missed the two-game weekend series because she was sick.

Junior varsity: MCHS 53, Rifle 28

Sophomores Britteny Ivers and Adrie Camp paced the Moffat County offense, finishing with 10 points each. Freshman Devon Conn and junior Lauren Martin led Rifle with 8 points each.

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