Steamboat Springs To go right would have been too predictable for Steamboat Springs High School's Erin Christensen. So she went left with nine seconds to go against Moffat County, rolled off a screen and hit a 3-pointer to put her team up 39-37 as the clock ran out.
"Everybody always goes right, so I thought I'd go the other way," the senior said. "After that, my mind was pretty much blank until I hit the shot."
The last-second thriller built momentum throughout the second half as the Bulldogs fought back from a 12-point deficit at halftime to take their first lead since the first quarter with 32.2 seconds remaining.
"I still felt we were going to find a way to win," said Steamboat coach Steve Moos. "After they hit that shot, I was a little worried, but we had played too well to lose."
The shot Moos spoke of was a 3-pointer from Jessica Ueker to put the Bulldogs up 37-36. The Sailors set up a play for the winning shot but it failed, and Moffat County took possession of the ball again. The Sailors weren't done, though, as they forced Moffat County's Brandie Telfer to step out of bounds.
"They just outplayed us most of the night, and the play where we had it and stepped out of bounds was a perfect example," said Moffat County coach Craig Mortensen. "We didn't defend the three well toward the end of the game."
The Bulldogs' demise started in the second quarter when they turned the ball over 10 consecutive times and the Sailors went from being down 12-10 to leading 24-14. Moffat County scored only once in the second quarter and it came one minute before the half.
"It was a different team out there the second quarter," Mortensen said. "We started to rely too much on getting the ball inside and didn't recognize that it wasn't working."
Telfer, the would-have-been recipient of getting the ball inside, said frustration was high in the second quarter.
"We weren't boxing out well or catching the ball," said the junior who had a game-high 18 points. "They adjusted and shut us down in the quarter."
The Bulldogs outscored the Sailors 11-5 in the third quarter to get within six points at 31-25.
"I knew that a 12-point lead wasn't much against Moffat," Moos said. "So I expected them to make a run."
Moffat County's run continued in the fourth quarter, as Steamboat didn't score until 3:24 remained in the game. At that point, the Bulldogs were within four points. A 3-pointer from Melissa White put the Sailors up 36-32 with 2:18 left. Back-to-back turnovers from both teams ate up the clock, and the Bulldogs struck next with a jumper from Telfer. That set up the dueling 3-pointers from Ueker and Christensen.
"That was one of the biggest shots I've ever hit," Christensen said, who led her team with nine points. "It was even bigger being against Moffat."
The win broke the Sailors' two-game losing streak in the conference and gave the Bulldogs their own two-game losing streak.
The Bulldogs hadn't lost a regular season Western Slope Conference game in more than 30 outings, and now they've lost two straight.
"Right now, I just don't know which team will show up," Mortensen said. "We'll see if it's an advantage for us to get them at home next time."
The win improves the Sailors to 3-2 in the WSC, 8-4 overall, and drops the Bulldogs to 3-2, 8-4.