Saturday, November 24, 2001
Steamboat Springs With five of its starters back from last year's league championship team, the Moffat County Bulldogs are on top of the dog pile in this year's Class 4A Western Slope League.
Although the girls basketball team lost its top scorer in Emily Mortensen and a major defender in Krystal Voorhees, it has plenty of varsity experience, with five players in the seven-player rotation returning, to remain at the top of the league.
"Four of the five returning, that bodes well for the team," Sailors coach Bruce Alston said. "They'll probably be the team to beat. They're extremely well-coached, have good attitudes and are tough to beat."
But for Bulldogs coach Craig Mortensen, who has 25 years of coaching experience under his belt, his team's biggest obstacle will be size. The team's major heighth will come from 5-foot-11 Jessica Norman and 5-foot-9 Katie Telfer, who made some notable dents at the post position last year.
But, size did not seem to be a factor for the 5-foot-4 Laurel Mortensen and 5-foot-5 Amber Sanchez, both all-conference players and among the state's top scores. The two senior guards play well off the rest of the team, Mortensen said.
"Our strength will be distributing the ball and doing well balance wise," Mortensen said.
While the Bulldogs are ranked as the dominating force in the Western Slope, the other teams' abilities are not quite as clear.
Rifle, Palisade and Steamboat, all district tournament contenders last year, will all be coming off a year that lost most of its starters.
And, Glenwood Springs is hoping its speed will pull it through the season. Returning with two senior starters, Demons coach Charlie Brenzikofer will have Natalie Lancaster and Lauren Scwandeka as the bulk of his experience. With 6-foot-1 Heather Hert as the tallest player, size will be a problem in the post position Brenzikofer said, but he will have a deep bench to keep his players fresh.
The Demons were going to get a boost from Autumn Caughun, a talented transfer from Roaring Fork. However, the standout sophomore who could play at post and guard, transferred to Basalt before the start of the season.
Last year's league co-champions, Rifle, will be at a loss with three of its top players graduated. League all-stars guard Lisa Samuleson, forward Marilyn Samson and forward Megan Langstaff will not return.
Battle Mountain and Delta are slated to stay at the bottom of the league similar to last year's finish.