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After second-place league finish, girls basketball team expects to lead again

David Pressgrove

The resumes of the teams that have ended the Moffat County High School girls basketball team’s seasons the past two years are more than impressive.

In the 2002 season, the Bulldogs lost to state runner-up Longmont in the first round of the state playoffs. Last year, Skyline sent Moffat County home in the first round and went on to win the championship.

“These girls should at least know what a state champion team looks like,” coach Craig Mortensen said.

“This year’s team expects to do well.”

In the middle of it all will be senior Brandie Telfer.

The post player averaged just over 18 points a game last year and is one of the top-five returning scorers in Class 4A this year. The senior will be the focus of opposing teams more than ever this year but she said she wasn’t nervous.

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“I’ve never felt pressure that I had to score,” she said. “My teammates make it easy on me with their good passing.”

One of those passers will be junior Mari Katherine Raftopoulos. The outside wing improved throughout her sophomore season and often will draw the defensive assignment of the opposing team’s best offensive player this year.

“I think we’ve improved a lot as a team this year,” Raftopoulos said. “We had a good summer, and I think that shows something.”

Mortensen didn’t have an exact number, but he said his team won the majority of the games it played together this summer.

“We cut down a lot on turnovers this summer,” Telfer said. “That was our weakness last year.”

Despite having five of seven players graduate from the previous team, the 2003 Bulldogs won 16 games and finished second in the league.

“We should be back on the top of the league this year,” Raftopoulos said. “We return a good team.”

Another returning started is senior Erin Robinson. The post player burned teams last year when they tried to focus on Telfer too much.

Mortensen predicted that for his team to be more successful this year it needed to find more scoring from sources such as Raftopoulos and Robinson.

“I hope that Brandie doesn’t score more this year than she did last year,” he said. “That means we have other threats and more scoring leaders.”

An inside-outside game would open up the scoring chances for all the Bulldogs.

Other projected starters who could help the outside scoring will be juniors Jessica Uecker and Cortney Grandbouche. Uecker showed a three-point touch toward the end of last year and more of it this summer.

Grandbouche will handle the point guard duties.

“Teams are going to press us a lot because of our size,” Mortensen said. “If we can have good ball control from our guards, then we can break the press.”

The Bulldogs will start the season without would-be returning starter junior April Sanchez. One of the top scorers and rebounders for Moffat last year, Sanchez had a second procedure on her injured knee this week and a return date is unknown.

Even without Sanchez, Mortensen said that his team would be one of the deepest he’s had in awhile.

“We have eight players who are at varsity ability,” he said.

“That could be another strength of ours,” he said.

Before last year, the Bulldogs had lost only one Western Slope League regular-season game in three years.

With their depth and returning talent, they expect to be back on top of the WSL.

“We expect to win the league,” Telfer said. “It shows how strong our program is when we consider a down year second place in the league.”

Mortensen said he thought that the other league coaches see them as the favorite.

“The program is in place here and the girls know and trust it,” he said.

“The kids know what they are getting in this system, and they have high expectations.”

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