Bulldog girls like their seed, aware wins aren't automatic
For once the Moffat County girls basketball team is a big fan of the Colorado High School Activities Association.
A year ago, the Bulldogs, who finished the 2005 regular season with one loss, were seeded in the same bracket with perennial powerhouse Mullen and eventual champion Sterling. This year, the Bulldogs finished only one game better, 22-0, but they’re much happier with their tournament bracket.
“Looking at the brackets, if we play well, we could make it to the final four,” senior Jessica Uecker said. “We know we have to play well, but our bracket isn’t as tough as last year.”
With that said, there is a lot of basketball left to play. After a letdown in play the final regular-season weekend, Moffat coach Craig Mortensen didn’t need to remind his undefeated girls that there’s no need to look too far.
“They are aware that we didn’t execute well last weekend,” Mortensen said after a nine-point win against Glenwood Springs and a 16-point win against Rifle. “We needed a game where we had to execute well, and the Glenwood game was that.”
The Bulldogs trailed against Glenwood Springs in the fourth quarter but outscored the Demons 24-12 in the final eight minutes for the win.
“Everything wasn’t the same,” Uecker said about the game against Glenwood. “We made mental errors and had problems with the basics.”
For the second consecutive year, the Bulldogs are a No. 1 seed going into the Class 4A state tournament. The next three weeks are what the team has been talking about since a 62-48 loss against Mullen in the Sweet 16 last year.
“This part of the season is definitely going to be more exciting,” Uecker said. “We’re looking forward to having games that give us an adrenaline rush again.”
The girls, who went through the league season with only one win that wasn’t by double digits, will have a chance to build up some adrenaline Friday night when they watch the game that will decide their Saturday opponent. The Bulldogs will face the winner of No. 8 Palisade and No. 9 Conifer.
“For the sake of our league, I hope Palisade wins,” Mortensen said. “Palisade has some good athletes on that team.”
Moffat beat Palisade 57-36 and 66-33 this season.
“I like that we go into the tournament with a balanced team,” Mortensen said. “We have four girls averaging double figures, and that’s hard to prepare for.”
The Bulldogs also have senior Mari Katherine Raftopoulos, who is making progress after missing two weeks from an illness.
“She’s still not at where she left off,” Mortensen said. “But she adds depth and experience to the team, and we’re adjusting back to having her.”
The team has had to make three major adjustments this season. The Bulldogs lost starting point guard Cortney Grandbouche to a knee injury after Christmas break. Then the team had to adjust to not having Raftopoulos. Now it’s adjusting to having her back.
If the Bulldogs win Saturday night, they’ll move into the Sweet 16 next week in Grand Junction.
“It would be nice if we could face Mullen again for a rematch,” Uecker said.
For that to happen, the two teams would meet in the championship.
“We can get beat any game if we don’t play well,” Mortensen said. “We are capable of getting to the final four and then we’ll go from there.”
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