David Pressgrove: Topics of conversation
On Thursday, I happened to eat lunch at the same establishment as the Evanston, Wyo., girls basketball team. The Lady Red Devils were letting their 96-40 loss to Moffat County soak in over burgers and fries, when I heard a player tell her coach, “I was trying to drive right at her and get her in foul trouble, but she just kept swatting me.”
The “her” the Evanston player was referring to was Moffat County’s Cayla Maneotis. In a span of six possessions in the third quarter, the 6-foot-5 junior from Moffat County blocked four of the Red Devils’ shots.
She also finished the game with 17 points, helping the Bulldogs to a 96-40 win.
On Friday, Maneotis contributed 13 points in a 67-32 win against Green River, Wyo.
In the past three games, she has averaged an impressive 18 points a game.
Last year, I overheard someone say, “If that girl played like she was 6-5, she’d be tough.”
Well guess what, her ability is growing.
Maneotis’ improved game and confidence will be the subject of many post-game conversations the next two years in Craig.
I’m not writing this to put more pressure on her. God only knows how much pressure has already been put on a young lady whose height probably makes her the equivalent of a 7-foot tall male player. My intended purpose is to point out how much her improvement helps an already good girls basketball team.
Moffat County’s perimeter defense has suffocated opponents this season. No team has scored more than 40 points on the Bulldogs. Only one team has held the girls to less than 50 points.
The Bulldogs have so many weapons on offense.
As of Friday, five Bulldogs had led the team in scoring in seven games.
The offensive numbers are impressive, but what is going to take this Bulldog team to its goal of the state tournament is its defense.
All of the Bulldogs’ guards — sophomores Angie Charchalis and Jorgiea Raftopoulos, junior Ashleigh Mann and seniors Cortney Grandbouche and Jessica Uecker — frustrate opponents with their on-the-ball defense. Forwards sophomore Markie Workman and senior Mari Katherine Raftopoulos are a combination of strong and quick that few forwards can match. If opponents can get past those two levels, they then have Maneotis waiting in the middle.
Maneotis, who, in my opinion, improves her speed and footwork almost every game, became the leading shot-blocker in school history in just her sophomore year.
Maybe something can be said about the Bulldogs’ lack of competition this year, but the Western Slope League better heed a warning. The teams Moffat County is beating are better than at least half of the league in years past.
If Maneotis and her teammates continue to improve as they have, they are going to be the subject of many post-game conversations similar to the one I heard Thursday. And those conversations will go into late February, early March.
Now if they could just move up to the Class 5A Western Slope League like Mullen does. But that’s for another day and another column.
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