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Moffat County girls basketball advances to second round of 3A state playoffs

The Bulldogs defeated the No. 21 Manitou Springs Mustangs 68-51 Tuesday night at Moffat County High School

 

Sophomore Sadie Smilanich dribbles past her defender in the fourth quarter of a MCHS win over the Manitou Springs Mustangs. (Andy Bockelman /For Craig Press)

Moffat County’s girls basketball season will see another day.

Hosting the No. 21 Manitou Springs Mustangs Tuesday night at Moffat County High School, the No. 12 Bulldogs cruised to a 68-51 win, setting up a second round tilt with the rival 3A Western Slope League Delta Panthers in the second round of the 3A state playoffs Thursday in Delta.

Against the Mustangs, the scoring depth that the Bulldogs possess was on display as they had seven different players crack the points column, led by sophomore Cayden King’s 19 points. Senior Amber Salazar added 13 points in the win.



Though the Bulldogs were stout defensively throughout, Moffat County had some struggles against Manitou Springs’ electric 3-point shooting, as the Mustangs converted eight triples in the first-round matchup.

Despite struggling to slow down Manitou Springs from beyond the arc, the Mustangs had no answers for the Bulldogs as Moffat County raced out to a 41-28 halftime lead and never let the Mustangs get close in the first-round battle.

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With the win, Moffat County has now won five games in a row. The last time that the Bulldogs lost was on Feb. 20 at home, when they fell to the Delta Panthers, the team that they are now facing for a trip to the Great Eight on the line.

The Bulldog squad that lost three weeks ago to the Panthers isn’t the same team that is making the three hour trip south, according to Salazar.

“I feel like we’ve grown a lot as a team and we are a lot better than we were then and we’re playing a lot better,” Salazar said. “I think we will be just fine going up against them.”

The fact that the Bulldogs have been playing as well as they have recently gives Head Coach Eric Hamilton confidence heading into the second round rematch.

“We know we have a challenge ahead of us but these girls are on fire right now. (They are) playing hard and as a team,” Hamilton said.

The confidence that the winning streak has brought on extends to the players as well, who are looking forward to getting another crack at the Panthers.

“I just really want a rematch because I think our team has progressed exponentially, and I think we could really take them,” junior Halle Hamilton said.

The No. 12 Bulldogs take their 10-3 record on the road to face off against the aforementioned rival No. 5 Delta Panthers in the Round of 16 of the 3A state tournament on Thursday, March 11.


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