Moffat County girls hoops knocked out of semifinals by Lutheran Lions | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County girls hoops knocked out of semifinals by Lutheran Lions

Lady Bulldogs aim for fifth-place finish with match against ousted Pagosa Springs

Denver — In sports it’s not about how you start a game but how you finish it. Unfortunately, as the — In sports it's not about how you start a game but how you finish it. Unfortunately, as the Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School girls basketball team found out Thursday at the Denver Coliseum, the beginning of a match-up can certainly set the tone for the rest of it. girls basketball team found out Thursday at the Denver Coliseum, the beginning of a match-up can certainly set the tone for the rest of it.

— In sports it's not about how you start a game but how you finish it. Unfortunately, as the Moffat County High School girls basketball team found out Thursday at the Denver Coliseum, the beginning of a match-up can certainly set the tone for the rest of it.

Moffat County High School girls basketball vs. Lutheran

Team — 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Final

MCHS — 6 9 16 9 40

Lutheran — 19 15 15 6 55

The Lady Bulldogs fell, 55-40, in the Great 8 round of the 3A State Championships to the Lutheran Lady Lions, the second year in a row the Craig girls have been eliminated from title contention by the cross-state playoff rivals from Parker.

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Lutheran took command quickly, putting up nine points before Leah Camilletti got scoring started on the other end three minutes and 20 seconds into the game. The quarter ended, 19-6, the Lady Dogs willing to chalk it up to butterflies in their stomachs.

"If we'd been able to shut down their threes and come out as hard as they did in the first quarter, we would've done a lot better," said MCHS senior Morgan Lawton.

The Lions' Morgan Barone sunk a three-pointer to start the second period, but Lawton and Katia Voloshin answered with back-to-back Bulldog field goals, each drawing fouls and each making their free throw count.

Still, in a matter of no time, Lutheran turned a 22-12 lead into a 19-point advantage at 31-12, capped off by Kristen Vigil nailing her second of four triples she'd have during the game.

MCHS went into the locker room down, 34-15, determined to come alive in the second half.

Vigil and Barone continued to have good fortune from outside as the third quarter got going, but the nadir of 44-19 — the biggest point difference of the day — was what the Lady Dogs needed to motivate them as they upped their effort inside as Kayla Pinnt and Lawton fought to get to the basket, putting together an eight-point run to make it 44-25.

Trailing 49-31 going into the fourth quarter, the Lady Dogs were on edge, Camilletti slapping away the ball and Mattie Jo Duzik diving on it like a live grenade to retain possession, every touch counting at this point.

But, the Lions knew this just as well, eating up time on their end of the court with lots of passing and little shooting.

A rally seemed possible with three minutes remaining as Moffat County fans leapt to their feet when Camilletti hit the only Bulldog three of the game. The senior, Moffat County's leader in total points for the season, later said the Lions were clearly ready at the arc for shooting from herself and Josey King, which is why they had to make so many adjustments.

"We had to start penetrating more and creating more opportunities," she said.

Seconds after Camilletti's sniper shot, Pinnt got her fifth foul, followed by Voloshin, the Bulldog energy all but evaporated as the chance for a state title was gone.

The first 10 minutes of action simply hurt Moffat County too much despite "playing ahead" for the remainder, said coach Sam McLeod, noting that nerves were a big cause.

"I didn't think it was gonna be, but watching them out there, passing not paying full attention to defense, they weren't playing at the speed they needed to be successful at the beginning of the game," he said. "When you play consistently throughout the game it's a different ball game. Two pretty even teams, but we didn't show it in the first quarter."

Despite a better outcome than when they lost to the Lions 61-32 last year, the ultimate result still hit the Bulldog girls hard.

"It's rough to put all the work into getting here and then just watching it all slip away," Lawton said.

Lawton led Bulldog scoring with 17 points, Pinnt eight, Camilletti seven, Voloshin six and Duzik two. Lady Dogs hit 16 of 46 total shots, one of nine three-point attempts and seven of 15 free throws.

Barone took the lion's share of the Lions' points, 20 on the day with four threes, Vigil 18, Shelbie Sperle six, Natalia Waldon four, Taylor Stuckey three and Lexi Knutson two, total shooting at 20 for 47, eight for 25 on threes and seven of 12 foul shots.

Lutheran bested the Western Slope twice Thursday as the Lady Lions' male counterparts, ranked second in the 3A tourney, outdid the No. 7 Grand Valley Cardinals, 66-55, each team of purple heading onto the Final Four round.

The fifth-seed Lutheran girls will need to switch to their home jerseys Friday, however, thanks to an upset in the Great 8 later in the day, as the ninth-seed Centauri Falcons became the first team in 50 games to hand the No. 1 squad and defending state champions a loss, outlasting the Pagosa Springs Pirates, 36-35.

While the No. 4 Lady Dogs may have been ready to repeat last year's consolation round win against the Falcons, they'll now need to focus their attention on shutting down a team that can't be happy about being dethroned, the loser of Friday's game done for the year, the winner going on to a final event Saturday to determine fifth place.

Like every coach, McLeod wants to finish the schedule with a full 27 games, which can only happen with a victory against Pagosa Springs.

"I'm anxious to see how they respond, see if we can establish new goals and win a couple games," he said. "Any game at state's a big game."

The players are likewise ready to end the weekend on a strong note.

"We've just got to go out and play hard to make the seniors' last games good," Camilletti said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

Moffat County High School girls basketball vs. Lutheran

Team — 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Final

MCHS — 6 9 16 9 40

Lutheran — 19 15 15 6 55