Moffat County hoops holds tight to finish off Grand Valley for 6th district title |

Moffat County hoops holds tight to finish off Grand Valley for 6th district title

Moffat County High School girls basketball players and coaches hold high the brackets and plaque as they celebrate their 3A Western Slope League district title Saturday in Grand Junction. MCHS girls defeated the Grand Valley Cardinals 43-34 to progress to the regional round of the state playoffs.
Andy Bockelman

It never finishes quite the same way, but since 2013, the 3A Western Slope League district tournament has consistently had one school as the last group of girls standing.

Moffat County High School girls basketball won its sixth consecutive district championship Saturday with a 43-34 win against the Grand Valley Cardinals in a rematch of last season’s district finals.

With a big win over Delta fresh in their minds, Lady Bulldogs were ready to run right over the Cards into the regional round of the 3A state playoffs, though both sides came out shooting a little cold, Grand Valley holding an 8-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Kinlie Brennise, who had a career-best 21 points on the day, got the group in gear with a three-point swish to start the second period, one of four triples she’d have throughout the day.

The outside bucket put the Bulldogs in front, where they’d stay for the rest of the game, and a 12-2 run in the first three minutes of the quarter had the Cards flummoxed.

A 27-12 lead at intermission was pushed further as Lady Dogs made it 38-22 by the end of the third quarter, but it was the last eight minutes that were the true test of their resolve.

While the Cardinals started to buckle down on their offense with 10 unanswered points, Moffat County girls suddenly looked like they were applying for masonry apprenticeships as they put up one brick after another.

Jana Camilletti attributed the shooting shakiness to anxiety in anticipation of a win.

“We just got a little excited and didn’t realize how much time we had left on the clock,” she said.

Camilletti finally scored on two free throws with 90 seconds remaining, and it became apparent all the Bulldogs had to do was test the Cardinals’ patience to incur fouls, the result being Jaidyn Steele once at the line and Camilletti twice more to keep it away from their opponents and wind the clock down and end in triumph.

It was the second win for MCHS against Grand Valley this season, Lady Dogs 51-41 in January.

“It was a better game than the first time we played them, and it showed how much we’ve grown as a team,” Camilletti said.

Camilletti finished with seven points, Steele and Tiffany Hildebrandt four, Brooke Gumber three and Jaci McDiffett and Quinn Pinnt two.

The key was a good balance of defense and offense, said head coach Kenley Nebeker, though it the trademark Bulldog D that got the job done.

“They struggled with our press, so we were able to roll with that, and Kinlie really got some big shots, they all got some big rebounds,” he said. “Feels great.”

This is the second year in a row Lady Dogs have beaten the Cardinals for the district honor, and again both teams will head to regionals for the postseason.

The 17-5 MCHS girls were ranked 15th in Colorado High School Activities Association’s RPI standings going into the championship game and should rise with the defeat of No. 12 Grand Valley, who were helped along by a district semifinals victory over No. 8 Cedaredge.

Following the win, Lady Bulldogs went to 11th, the Cards 15th, while the Bruins bounced back with a Saturday win over Delta to retain postseason hopes in sixth at 19-3.

Brackets will be released Sunday, and the district title and standings in the top 16 within RPI should guarantee Moffat County hosting duties for the Round of 32 and Sweet 16 games for CHSAA state playoffs.

“Getting that home game is always a great thing,” Nebeker said. “We love our fans, and we ask that every single person come out and support us.”

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