It’s a cliché as old as any in sports: You can’t give up free points at the foul line in order to win. But the Moffat County girls basketball team proved just how valuable free throws can be Friday.
Girls scoring vs. Grand Valley
Katelyn Peroulis 12
Morgan Lawton 12
Allie Ehlers 8
Jazmine Swindler 7
Cheianne Pinnt 6
Leah Camilletti 5
Brittany Walker 2
Taking on Grand Valley in the 3A Western Slope district semifinals, the Bulldogs made 18 of 19 foul shot attempts to pick up a 52-42 win and advance to Saturday's championship game. Led by 12 points from Katelyn Peroulis and Morgan Lawton, the Bulldogs earned a shot at a second straight district title.
“We’ve been practicing them more in practice,” Jazmine Swindler said about the team’s shooting. “We knew this would be such a game, and every game is going to be close from here on out with playoffs.”
Moffat County held a slim lead for the most of the game by going 12-12 from the line through the first three quarters, while Grand Valley stayed close with timely three-point shooting. But Lauren Paskett hit a foul shot after the third-quarter buzzer to tie the game at 34 entering the final frame.
In the fourth quarter, though, the Bulldogs were the better team. Peroulis hit a three to start the quarter, and Leah Camilletti buried another later to push Moffat County’s lead to seven points with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.
From there, the Bulldogs were able to finish off the game at the foul line.
“Against their zone, at halftime, I said we needed to hit outside shots or drive and make something happen,” coach Matt Ray said. “The other thing we needed to do was control the boards which I thought we did a great job of. Of course, when you hit free throws like that, you’re going to win a lot of games.”
The Bulldogs hit four threes in the second half after attempting and missing just one in the first half. They missed some simpler shots in the paint in the first half as well, but recovered to own the final quarter.
“There were definitely some nerves in the first half,” Swindler said. “It was a big game, so I think we were nervous to miss an outside shot that we didn’t take them. In the second half, we knew we had to shoot more. You can’t shoot the shot you don’t make.”
MCHS has played three straight complete games and come away with three wins. One more, against Gunnison or Olathe in the district championship would make them regional hosts in a week.
“Right now they’re playing their best basketball,” Ray said. “I thought that would be the case with this team. We took our lumps at the beginning of the season, but they’re very confident right now.”
Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.