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Anxious to flex their muscles

The MCHS girls b-ball team is aware of its inexperience, but believes it's ready

David Pressgrove

As the five seniors on the Moffat County High School girls basketball team sat down to talk about the upcoming season, they came to a revelation.

“I don’t think we’ve ever all played together as a team,” said Jeni Jones.

“Nope, not even in eighth grade,” said Amanda Tomlinson.

It’s not often that five athletes the same age have never played together, but that’s the case for this year’s MCHS team.

With four graduating seniors starting on last year’s state playoff team as well as another coming off the bench, the only two returning players with substantial varsity playing time are seniors Kate Schafer and Laurel Mortensen.

“As a whole, we are unproven on the varsity level,” said head coach Craig Mortensen. “They’re hard workers and talented, they’ve just not had the varsity playing time.”

As far as experience, it helps that Laurel Mortensen, the only returning starter, averaged 12.3 points last year and was the Western Slope Conference Player of the Year.

She is aware of what that means this year.

“We’ve been working in practice on teams double-teaming me,” she said. “It might be pretty fun for me to dish to my teammates and sit back and watch.”

The other four seniors know they will have to adjust to the varsity level if the team is to be successful.

“We have to step up,” said Ashley Bishop.

“We can’t expect Laurel to do it all,” Schafer said. “We have to punish the teams that leave us open.”

Coach Mortensen said while the majority of the team has yet to prove itself in competition, members did everything they could this summer to prepare.

“This is the most commitment I’ve had during the summer,” he said. “We had girls in the gym almost every morning working hard.”

The seniors will not be alone in their efforts with most notably sophomore Brandie Telfer down low. Telfer led the junior varsity in scoring last year as a freshman. She and Jones appear to be the forces down low for the Bulldogs.

“We had a very good JV team last year with Amanda, Ashley, Brandie, and Jeni,” coach Mortensen said. “So they know how to win.”

The Bulldogs went through the conference last year undefeated, and the closest any team came was 10 points. Throughout the summer, there were several coaching changes in the conference and there is plenty of young talent returning in the WSC.

“The competition is equaling out in the league,” Laurel Mortensen said. “There won’t be very many blowouts this year for us. If I was a fan here last year, I wouldn’t have liked coming to the games because they were never very close. This year, they will be a lot closer, so people should come watch us more!”

Coach Mortensen picked Rifle to be the top contender in the league this year with a majority of the Bears returning. He said Steamboat and Glenwood Springs made coaching changes, so it would be hard to predict how they would perform. He agreed with his players that the conference would be more competitive.

The team will not have any early-season “gimmie games” with six of its first seven games against bigger schools, including the opening tournament in Vernal against several big Utah schools as well as regular season games against Fruita, Silver Creek, Northridge and Grand Junction Central.

“We will learn what we’re made of quickly,” coach Mortensen said. “We’ve got weapons, we just have to figure out how to use them.”

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com.


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