Bulldogs take to road
The last time Craig Mortensen took a team to Wyoming was the first year he coached the girls at Moffat County. That year his team was beaten in one game by 60 points.
Eleven years later, the boys and girls basketball teams are returning.
“I definitely think it will go better this year,” he said. “But at the same time, we really don’t know much about our competition.”
This weekend is the last before a mandated holiday break by the Colorado High School Activities Association. Three of the Bulldog teams will spend the weekend at out-of-town tournaments.
The girls varsity basketball team is the first in action at the Flaming Gorge Classic in Rock Springs, Wyo., at 10:30 a.m. today.
The team faces 1-4 Evanston, Wyo. The Red Devils play in the largest classification in Wyoming, Class 4A. Those schools consist of at least 850 students.
The girls JV team (4-1) also will compete in the tournament. It faces Evanston at 12:15 p.m.
“Our original thought about going to this tournament is better competition,” Mortensen said. “We really have no idea what we’re going to face.”
Steamboat Springs and Grand Junction are in the 16-team tournament, but the Bulldogs won’t face those familiar foe. They’ll see all Wyoming teams.
Moffat County’s varsity team plays Green River (0-0) at 10:30 a.m. Friday and Mountain View (2-3) at 8:45 a.m. Saturday.
Mortensen said he’s never had a team play so early in the morning, but that “the other team has to play at the same time we do.”
The JV team mirrors the varsity’s opponents with games at 8:45 a.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
“I’d like to see everybody play well in the same game,” Mortensen said. “So far we’ve had girls play well on different days, but not a good performance from everybody on one night.”
The boys team goes into the tournament at the end of a tough December. The varsity is 2-3 with losses to two Class 5A schools and Class 3A Basalt.
“I’d like to see us play more consistent defense,” coach Scott Parker said. “Playing defense for 32 minutes will lead to more transition baskets for us on offense.”
The varsity team opens up against Mountain View (3-2) at 12:15 p.m. today. On Friday, they’ll face Riverton, Wyo., at 3:45 p.m. and Saturday, they’ll face Rock Springs at 7:15 p.m.
“We have three games against teams we have no idea about,” Parker said. “That should help us focus more on what we need to do.”
The JV team will face Mountain View at 5:30 p.m. today, Riverton at 2 p.m. Friday and Rock Springs at 3:45 p.m. Saturday.
The wrestlers travel to the Warrior Classic on Friday and Saturday.
The Warrior is traditionally one of the most competitive tournaments in Colorado. The brackets are seeded according to last year’s criteria. That doesn’t bode well for the young Bulldogs, with no state tournament experience.
“It will be an eye-opener for some of our younger guys,” coach Roman Gutierrez said. “I would expect five of our guys to make it late into Saturday.”
On Monday, the wrestling coaches talked to the wrestlers about their mental approach. Some team members were making excuses for poor performances last weekend after a tough practice Thursday and a late drive from Vernal, Utah, to Rock Springs, Wyo.
“The mental game needs some work for our young guys,” Gutierrez said. “We need to be wrestling with more confidence.”
The tournament will be at Central High School in Grand Junction this year. Traditionally, it has been at Mesa State’s gymnasium.
“It loses some of the feel with it at Central,” Gutierrez said. “But that doesn’t take away from the wrestlers who are there.”
Class 4A’s top-ranked Alamosa and second-ranked Pueblo South will be there. So will perennial powers in Utah West Jordan and Uintah (Vernal).
“This is a good group in practice,” Gutierrez said. “If we can get the mental aspects turned around, things will start to come together.”
The Bulldogs finished third at the Warrior Classic last year.
Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. Friday.
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