COLFAX - There is nothing in the basketball rulebook outlawing telepathy, a fact Ridgeview High School guards Kalee Bedel and Brianne Ghere exploit to the fullest.
Words aren't necessary when they decide to trap a foe.
"We just know because we've been playing together since third grade," said Bedel, whose 22-7 team is seeded to win the Class A Regional it hosts today through Thursday.
Bedel and Ghere are prime reasons defense is the Mustangs' strength.
"They love defense," said Coach Mindy Whitehouse.
It's one thing to love defense, but Bedel - who averages 2.1 steals per game - may be in the wrong sport.
"If it was like football, I would just play defense," she said. "I love playing defense."
That is fine by Whitehouse, who feels shooting is another team asset.
"When we don't shoot well, it doesn't bother us because our defense is always there," she said.
Plus Ridgeview can shift to another gear with the speedy Ghere, whose father, Scott, coaches the Ridgeview seventh- and eighth-grade boys.
"Out of all the girls out there, Brianne never gives up no matter what," Whitehouse said. "She wants the ball in her hands. As far as knowing the game, she probably knows more than I do."
Ghere, who averages 5.9 points, is the team's fastest player.
"She's a great ballhandler," added Whitehouse. "She doesn't shoot the ball enough, but she can shoot the ball. She's one of the best (point) guards around here."
Ghere, Bedel and Amanda Thompson were sidelined by health problems the night Ridgeview lost to Iroquois West, one of three losses Mustang fans can link to injuries.
Three other setbacks came against 23-3 Flanagan, which is seeded first in the Central Catholic Sectional complex. No. 3-seeded Ridgeview defeated No. 2-seeded Central Catholic, 49-46, Dec. 17 without Bedel, Ghere and Thompson.
"Hopefully we'll meet them (Flanagan) in the sectional championship game," said Bedel, whose team opens regional play at 6 p.m. Wednesday against either Lexington (8-16) or Woodland (3-17).
Thursday's 7:30 p.m. regional final is expected to feature Ridgeview against No. 7-seeded El Paso-Gridley, a team the Mustangs defeated Thursday, 35-34, on a shot by Mackenzie Roth with eight seconds left.
Roth, the team's lone senior, averages 11.8 points. She was ill against EPG, but still managed four points.
"I've been extremely hard on her," Whitehouse said. "I've tried to prepare her to be a college player. I've tried to make her a complete offensive player as far as dribble penetration, pulling up and stuff like that. Her defense has gotten better.
"In the summer, the girl has a ball in her hand nonstop. She takes it upon herself to get better. She loves the game."
Whitehouse loves the way 5-10 Kellie Graham averages 6.7 rebounds, 7.3 points and 1.2 blocks.
"She can also step out and be a guard if she really needed to," added Bedel, whose team finished 18-12 last year with just one senior.
The experience gained a year ago is showing this season.
"We actually can handle the ball this year," Bedel said. "Last year no one wanted the ball in their hands. I think we have a lot better shot selection. We're a lot more mature and can make a lot smarter decisions than we did last year."
Plus, the team saw guard Sarah Hardman transfer from El Paso and forward Darby Gleeson return from a knee injury after sitting out last season. Hardman averages 2.1 assists per game while the 5-10 Gleeson contributes 5.1 points and 5.1 rebounds.
The Mustangs seem to have adapted more to their second-year coach, who expects a lot.
"She's rough, but we have fun with her," Graham said.
"I love having someone who will push you," added Bedel. "I love working hard."
There's no rule against it.