Nike Cleverly, a Moffat County High School senior, drives past an Erie High School defender Friday in Longmont. The MCHS girls varsity basketball team beat Erie in the first round of the 4A state playoffs on a late free throw, 44-43, to advance to today’s Sweet 16 game against Longmont.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Nike Cleverly, a Moffat County High School senior, drives past an Erie High School defender Friday in Longmont. The MCHS girls varsity basketball team beat Erie in the first round of the 4A state playoffs on a late free throw, 44-43, to advance to today’s Sweet 16 game against Longmont.

Bulldogs taste the Sweet 16

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When Moffat Count High School junior Annie Sadvar went to the free throw line Friday, she knew what a made basket would mean to her team.

With less than 10 seconds left in regulation in the MCHS girls varsity basketball team’s game against Erie High School in the first round of the 4A state playoffs, the game was tied 41-41.

Sadvar was at the charity strip for a one-and-one.

“I prayed to God that I would make it,” Sadvar said.

But, lady luck was unkind, and she missed.

The Bulldogs then headed to overtime to fight for the right to continue their playoff push.

However, Sadvar didn’t have to wait long for redemption.

With three seconds left in OT, she found herself in a similar situation, except this time she was shooting two free throws instead of one.

“I knew I had to redeem myself,” she said. “I knew if I missed the first one, I would get another shot, so that helped a little.”

Sadvar missed the first shot, but drained the second, sealing a 44-43 victory for the Bulldogs.

“I had to block out the first shot so it wouldn’t get to me,” Sadvar said. “I treated those last two shots like any other free throw.”

The win put MCHS into the Sweet 16 to face No. 1 seed Longmont.

After the first quarter, the Bulldogs (17-7) trailed the Tigers (18-6), 12-9.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from junior Melissa Camilletti and senior Nike Cleverly put the Bulldogs up 16-14 in the second quarter.

“I think we played good and we didn’t commit a lot of fouls,” Sadvar said. “We came together as a team and played a really solid game.”

The Bulldogs led by as much as seven, but Erie shut down the MCHS inside game, keeping the ball on the perimeter.

MCHS coach Matt Ray said mid-game adjustments kept the Bulldogs up.

“(Erie) double-teamed our post and if we were to do anything, we had to do it quick or it was gone,” he said. “We had to do some five-out sets and high post to get some good looks at lay ups.

“Erie was able to take our strength away, the inside game, but we beat them by being quicker and smarter.”

Sadvar said the adjustments opened up the game for MCHS.

“We had to switch to one post and when one of our guards would make a shot, it pulled pressure off our post,” she said. “We had to keep going back and forth to keep things moving.”

Camilletti led the Bulldogs with 21 points.

Ray said his team’s defensive effort was key to winning the game.

“We made every one of their players work for every shot they took,” he said. “It was a battle and a very physical game.”

In the minute between the end of regulation and overtime, Ray said he told his team to control the ball.

“I told the girls if we control the ball and out rebound Erie, we would win the game,” he said. “Our ability to rebound was the biggest key to winning.”

The Bulldogs will play at 5 p.m. today against Longmont.

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