“We beat D’Evelyn earlier in the season and they earned a No. 1 seed. We’ve also beat Montrose and 5A schools Grand Junction and Fruita Monument. Delta only played one 5A school, so I think that played a big factor.”
— Matt Ray, Moffat County High School girls varsity basketball coach, on the Bulldogs getting the highest seed in the 4A state basketball playoffs out of the five Western Slope League teams to earn a berth in the tournament.
On Jan. 20, the Moffat County High School girls varsity basketball team lost 54-39 to Delta and fell two games back in the Western Slope League title race.
But, the Bulldogs never wavered from their league title aspirations, and went on to win the remaining eight games on their schedule, including victories at Delta and over Glenwood Springs.
The late-season win streak earned MCHS a three-way split of the league title on Friday, and on Sunday the Bulldogs learned they’d be a No. 3 seed in the 4A state basketball playoffs and have a first-round bye.
MCHS has the best seed of the five WSL teams to earn a berth in the state tournament.
“I was only really expecting a top four seed, so getting a No. 3 seed is better than we had hoped for,” Bulldogs head coach Matt Ray said Sunday. “We won our last eight games of the season, so I think the late season momentum played into our seeding.”
The Bulldogs (17-6 overall, 10-2 WSL) will play the winner of No. 6 Thompson Valley and No. 11 Frederick, who play Wednesday at Thompson Valley.
The second-round game will take place Friday at Centaurus High School, 10300 E. South Boulder Road, in Lafayette.
Centaurus earned the No. 2 seed and the right to host the second-round and Sweet 16.
Glenwood and Delta earned a No. 4 and No. 5 seed, respectively, and fellow WSL teams Steamboat Springs and Palisade received a No. 9 and No. 12 seed, respectively.
Ray said the Bulldogs’ strength of schedule was another big factor in their seeding.
“We beat D’Evelyn earlier in the season and they earned a No. 1 seed,” he said. “We’ve also beat Montrose and 5A schools Grand Junction and Fruita Monument. Delta only played one 5A school, so I think that played a big factor.”
The top four seeds in each of the four regions earned first-round byes.
Ray said the biggest benefit of a bye is being able to get in more practice time.
“We can get in three good practices before we have to play instead of rushing things,” he said. “If we had to play Wednesday and then again Friday, I think that is a lot this late in the season.”
The Bulldogs beat Steamboat in the regular-season finale on the road, but Ray didn’t feel his team played its best ball.
In the practices leading up to Friday’s game, Ray said the Bulldogs need to be focused.
“We need to get more efficient and not let teams get set in their defense,” he said. “We want to dictate the pace of the game and play sharper. We will work on the fundamentals of the game and on working faster.”
Last season, the Bulldogs beat Erie in overtime in the first round before falling to No. 1 seed Longmont in the Sweet 16.
Ray said he thinks his players have the talent to make it past the Sweet 16 this year.
“The biggest difference in a playoff game is the excitement, and the girls need to respond well to that,” he said. “I think we are in a good bracket to be able to go past the Sweet 16.
“I’m pretty excited and I hope the girls are pretty excited because I think we can do well.”
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