Moffat County's Mortensen helps lead team to win

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— Laurel Mortensen just couldn't hit anything Friday night. Then she took her warm-ups off.

Unfortunately for the Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team, the pregame was the only time the Moffat County senior was cold as she scored 29 points and led the Bulldogs to a 54-41 victory.

"This may have been our best shooting night of the season," she said. "I sure didn't feel it in the warm-up, but once we got going, my stroke felt good."

The loss was the first for the Sailors on the season, and coach Steve Moos said he thought his Sailors were attending a shooting clinic courtesy of the Bulldogs.

"Whenever we would slack for just a second, they would get open and hit a shot," he said. "I hope they don't shoot like that every night."

For most of the game, Sailor Bailey Draper was doing everything she could to chase Mortensen through screens and cuts, but the Bulldogs were able to get the returning Western Slope Conference player of the year open looks.

"I saw Grand Junction Central play Moffat County with a zone, and they hit a lot of shots," he said. "So we were going to stick with man tonight, but they just hit their shots."

Moffat County coach Craig Mortensen recognized the third quarter as the time when his girls were particularly on target.

"I really thought we had an unselfish third quarter," he said. "Our scoring was balanced and we opened it up quite a bit."

The Bulldogs outscored the Sailors 22-8 in the third. Toward the end of the quarter, senior Kate Schafer put the Bulldogs up 44-23 with a 3-pointer and coach Mortensen leaped in the air with satisfaction -- a rare move from the veteran coach.

"I used to be able to touch the net," he said. "It was just the right time during the right game and I got excited."

The jump had the Bulldog players smiling as they realized they had reached one of their pregame goals.

"We set the goal to give Mort a reason to have meaningful pride in our effort," Laurel Mortensen said of her coach/dad. "The jump was a sign that he was feeling pretty good about the game."

While Moos didn't have a lot to jump up and down about, he thought his team saw some things to build on.

"Moffat is the team to beat and we have to measure ourselves by them," he said. "We were a step slow tonight, and now we know what it takes to be at the top."

Mortensen was the only Bulldog in double figures, while seniors Jannike Combs and Bayli Stillwell led the Sailors with 16 and 12, respectively.

"They came in confident about their chances, but we wanted it more," Mortensen said. "This wasn't going to be the night that we lost to them."

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