Bulldogs on the boards
Moffat County girls upend top-seeded Cardinals in district semis
In late January, the Moffat County High School girls basketball team lost by 18 points to a much bigger and physically imposing Grand Valley squad.
During that game, though, the Bulldogs out-rebounded the Cardinals 45-24.
With hustle and scrappy play on the boards, No. 4 Moffat County upset top-seeded Grand Valley on Friday afternoon 52-42 in the semifinals of the Class 3A Western Slope District tournament at Palisade High School.
Again, Cardinals coach Mike Johnson said, the problem was rebounding.
“I mean, honestly, they shot very well,” Johnson said. “They shot extremely well from the perimeter. The shots that they did miss, they got offensive rebounds and put-backs in the second half.
“We’ve got to be better rebounding on both sides of the ball. We have to be better on the offensive end, we only had two offensive rebounds this entire game, and we have to compete on the defensive boards. We have the size to do it.”
The Bulldogs made 18 of 19 free-throw attempts in the game and hit four 3-pointers in the second half. Morgan Lawton and Katelyn Peroulis each scored 12 points for Moffat County.
“The amount of free throws they made is just outstanding for this level of basketball,” Johnson said. “They did all the things they had to do to beat us. Give them credit, and our girls hung in. But we just did not shoot the ball well enough to compete with how well they were shooting it. We’re a good team and it took an outstanding effort to beat us. So moving forward, we just need to keep playing our game.”
The game was tied 34-34 at the end of the third quarter, but Moffat County limited Grand Valley to only one field goal in the fourth quarter.
Bulldogs coach Matt Ray credited strong defensive rotation for finally shutting down the Cardinals.
“We know that they’re team that likes to penetrate hard and get to the rim,” Ray said. “We needed good help-side defense and I told them that we need to limit them to one chance at the basket.
“We needed strong defense and to control the boards and we did those two things. I told our girls that Grand Valley wasn’t going to beat us with the 3. They could shoot them all day if they want to and I don’t think they could make enough to beat us.”
Haley Johnson led the Cardinals with 15 points. Johnson hit three 3-pointers and used her size to get to the rim.
Grand Valley plays No. 7 Gunnison in the third-place game today at 12:30 p.m.
Moffat County, which has won four of its past five games, faces No. 2 Olathe in the title game today at 4 p.m.
The Bulldogs split with Olathe, losing 54-43 on Dec. 20 and winning 58-53 on Feb. 3.
“My bench isn’t too bad,” Ray said. “Today, I know we only played six (players). But tomorrow we’re going to go deeper on the bench because we do have that depth. We’ll be just fine playing on back-to-back days.”