Moffat County girls basketball coach Craig Mortensen said Steamboat Springs deserved to win the teams' first encounter of the season Jan. 23, but the Bulldogs deserved to win the second.
Behind dominating play from the perimeter and post players, Moffat County defeated Steamboat, 49-42, in Craig on Tuesday.
The Sailors won the first meeting on a game-winning 3-pointer from Erin Christensen as time dwindled away last month, but the Bulldogs made sure no game-ending heroics were needed on either side this time around.
"We knew we had to play tough," junior Brandie Telfer said. "It's a full-out battle with Steamboat. More than any other team in the league."
Telfer and teammate Cayla Maneotis, a 6-foot-3 freshman, combined to score 25 points in the Bulldogs' win, as they frequently went around through or over the shorter Sailors' players to get to the hoop.
Moffat County built a 28-18 lead by the half, and when Steamboat came out in the third quarter with a zone defense in an effort to slow the Bulldogs' post players, Moffat County's guards responded with clutch shots of their own.
Seniors Stephanie Brown and Ashlee Hafey each made two three-point baskets in the game, including one apiece toward the end of the third that helped the Bulldogs establish a 21-point lead the Sailors couldn't overcome.
"I don't think we boxed out and that was our problem in the first half," Steamboat coach Steve Moos said. "We tried taking away the inside. We had to do something, and they hit four threes. Give them credit."
The Sailors increased their defensive intensity in the fourth quarter, creating turnovers and hitting shots to pull to within nine points, 36-45, with 2:28 left in the game. Two straight turnovers by Moffat County gave Steamboat a chance, but the visiting team could not convert on offense.
Telfer locked up the win for Moffat County with two of her game-high 17 points on an offensive rebound with slightly more than a minute left to play.
Senior Erin Christensen scored a team-high 14 points for Steamboat, while junior Kayla Kostur added 12, including eight in the fourth quarter.
Steamboat and Moffat County entered Tuesday's game with matching league and overall records. The Bulldogs' win, however, moves them to 7-2 in the league and 12-4 overall.
Steamboat drops to 11-5, 6-3.
The Sailors return to action at 6 p.m. Friday in Rifle. The Bears are 7-0 and sitting comfortably atop the league standings.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org