Matt Ray, Moffat County High School girls basketball coach, huddles with his players Friday during a rivalry game against Steamboat Springs. Ray took over for longtime head coach Craig Mortensen after he retired at the end of last season, and won a share of the WSL crown in his first year.

Photo by Brian Smith

Matt Ray, Moffat County High School girls basketball coach, huddles with his players Friday during a rivalry game against Steamboat Springs. Ray took over for longtime head coach Craig Mortensen after he retired at the end of last season, and won a share of the WSL crown in his first year.

On Senior Night, MCHS girls hoops team beats rival, wins share of league title

Box Score

Box score from the Moffat County High School girls varsity basketball team’s Friday game against Steamboat Springs:

(Team — 1st — 2nd — 3rd — 4th — final)

Moffat County — 12 — 17 — 14 — 16 — 59

Steamboat — 9 — 12 — 13 — 16 — 50

Leading Scorers

MCHS leading scorers:

(Name — points)

• Lauren Roberts — 19

• Annie Sadvar — 11

• Melissa Camilletti — 9

Lauren Roberts said beating rival Steamboat Springs was a preseason goal for her Moffat County High School Bulldogs.

Winning the Western Slope League title was also at the top of the list, she said.

After a 59-50 victory Friday night over the Sailors, Roberts used one word to describe her team’s success.

“Satisfaction,” she said, with a grin across her face after the game.

The victory over Steamboat gave the MCHS girls varsity basketball team a share of the WSL title with Delta and Glenwood Springs, and likely earned the Bulldogs a trip to the postseason.

“We did what we set out to do tonight,” said Roberts, an MCHS senior. “We knew we had to win tonight to stay in the running for the league title and to get a good position in the state playoffs and we were able to do that.”

The win was especially important for the team’s five seniors — Roberts, Nike Cleverly, Maddy Jourgensen, Callie Papoulas and Britteny Ivers.

“It was a big deal for all us seniors because it was our last home game and our last game against Steamboat,” Roberts said. “We weren’t leaving (MCHS) without a win.”

Roberts led the Bulldogs’ offense in the regular season finale with 19 points.

The Bulldogs (16-7 overall, 10-2 WSL) trailed only once in the game, 6-4, in the first quarter.

But, the Sailors (11-11 overall, 6-6 WSL) kept it interesting throughout the night.

MCHS coach Matt Ray said the Sailors showed his team exactly what he thought they would.

“We figured we would win, but Steamboat gave a heck of a run and we could never pull away,” he said. “They can shoot 3-pointers, and they did, but we were able to get hands up enough times.”

The Sailors hit seven 3-pointers, including five in the second half.

Before the game got started, the seniors were introduced alongside their parents. Friday night was Senior Night.

Ray said he wasn’t sure how emotions would impact his players.

“It knew it would be an emotional night, but the girls handled it OK,” he said. “We didn’t want to come out flat, and we were able to avoid that.”

Although a program used to success, the girls basketball team had not won the WSL title in two years.

In his first year as head coach, Ray said he was happy to keep the tradition alive.

“I am glad we could compete at the level we needed to keep the winning going,” he said. “Winning league is the first step to follow in (Craig) Mortensen’s path, and we have that now.”

Roberts said being a player in a program with such a “tradition of excellence” was amazing.

“We have real pride in our program at our school,” she said. “We definitely didn’t want it to end with our team this year, and it is extremely satisfying to pull our weight and keep it a successful program.”

With so much on the line, nerves may have been a factor for some, but not for Roberts.

Instead, she said she was filled with excitement as she stepped onto the court.

“Seeing everyone there and the fans starting to fill in, there were no nerves,” she said. “It was pure excitement.”

To win the league title by beating a rival, Ray said, added to the payoff.

“Any time we face Steamboat, the girls are always ready and focused,” he said. “Our team hasn’t lost to Steamboat much in the past few years, so the girls came out and did what they needed to do.”

The Bulldogs almost lost junior point guard Melissa Camilletti, a frequent starter, in the second quarter.

Sprinting toward the basket to try and get a rebound, Camilletti collided with another player and hit her head on the court.

Ray came out to help Camilletti off and held her out the rest of the first half, but she returned to start the third quarter.

“I got checked out during halftime for a concussion, but they said I was clear to go,” Camilletti said. “I whopped it pretty hard, but I felt OK.”

Camilletti scored seven of her nine points in the second half.

“We all wanted to play great tonight because it was against Steamboat and it was the last home game for the seniors,” she said. “We improved all season to get to this point.”

When Steamboat cut the Bulldogs’ lead to six at the beginning of the fourth quarter and again to five with less than two minutes left, Camilletti said the Bulldogs kept their composure.

“We knew we had to step up our defense, but our offense also responded with almost every point,” she said. “We didn’t have any turnovers late and we held on.”

When the Bulldogs lost to Delta on Feb. 11, the league title seemed out of their grasp.

Three straight wins to close the season, including a victory in Glenwood on Feb. 15, proved otherwise.

“The loss to Delta stung a lot,” Roberts said. “We felt it the next morning in our game against Palisade and we kept it in mind as we gave everything we could against Glenwood.”

The Bulldogs will learn their postseason fate by 6 p.m. Sunday.

Because of their strength of schedule and past success, MCHS Athletic Director Richard Wildenhaus said the Bulldogs have a great chance at a good playoff seed.

“With the history of success we have and a very competitive non-league schedule, I think we should be happy Sunday,” he said. “With our schedule, we let the selection committee know we are committed to being competitive.”

While the season isn’t yet over, Camilletti said she already has high hopes for next year.

“I am really excited for next year because my class and the class below me will have this success with us,” she said. “Tonight was a great step for the future of our team.”

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