PALISADE – One advantage of having a three-day tournament is that by the third game, a coach has had a chance to scout the upcoming opponent twice in a matter of 48 hours.
Matt Ray, Moffat County High School girls basketball coach, had a pretty good idea of what his team could do against Saturday’s opponent, Palisade.
“Cortez and Rifle pressed them and it worked well,” Ray said. “I felt pretty good about our chances if we did the same.”
The Bulldogs defense made it hard on Palisade to get past half court in the first quarter, and at one point MCHS led 21-4. The quarter ended with the Bulldogs in blue leading the Bulldogs in maroon, 21-6. The rest of the game wasn’t as lopsided, but MCHS finished with a 53-41 win.
“From what I could tell, our girls were going to be faster at every position,” Ray said. “That is how it went we got to a pretty comfortable lead.”
Maybe they were too comfortable.
Ray sent in a brand new set of five players at the beginning of the second quarter and took the press off. The result was that Palisade outscored MCHS 11-3 in the second quarter.
Ray said that if the game was a Western Slope League contest, he would have kept the press on for the second quarter. But, he made a change to allow for some more game time for his second five off the bench.
“I brought those other girls off the bench and I thought they would provide another spark,” Ray said. “But that wasn’t the case.”
Ray put the press back on in the third quarter and his girls responded. Their quickness took a 24-17 halftime lead and expanded it to 43-27 at the end of the quarter.
Senior Lauren Roberts, who had 10 points, said that team speed should be an advantage for the Bulldogs most of the season.
“Our posts aren’t typical big girls,” she said. “We are all fast and we need to use that speed.”
Nike Cleverly, Maddy Jourgensen and Melissa Camilletti wreaked havoc on the Palisade guards in the first and third quarters. Cleverly might be the quickest of the three defenders.
“Last year we lost to Palisade in their gym so we had to make sure that didn’t happen again,” Cleverly said. “The way we kept the pressure on with the press was encouraging. We need to have that same intensity when we play them in league.”
In addition to Roberts’ 10 points, Camiletti led the team with 15 and Annie Sadvar scored nine. Nine Bulldogs scored in the winning effort.
The Bulldogs finished the first part of the season 6-3 overall, and 5-1 against teams in Colorado. Ray said that over the holiday break they were going to shorten their bench and work on better execution.
“I think we are starting to play a little more under control,” he said. “The game needs to slow down for some of our girls on offense but we are making progress.”