KMTS PLAYOFFS: Rifle Boys Overtaken by Cardinals; Girls Roll Cedaredge

PARACHUTE (2/22/11) — Sometimes a great start means a fine finish, and sometimes it doesn’t. For the Rifle girls and boys basketball teams in the 3A Western Slope League district quarterfinals Tuesday, both started well, but only the girls kept their mojo going, pulverizing Cedaredge, 60-15, after shutting out the Bruins 31-0 in the first quarter, and earning a place in Friday’s semifinals at Palisade High School. The boys led by 14 early in the second quarter, but were doubled up 51-25 the rest of the way to fall, 60-48, into Thursday’s consolation bracket.

When Von Church completed a rare four-point play three minutes into the second quarter, the Rifle boys had quieted the Grand Valley fans by extending a 13-7 first-quarter lead to 14 points, 23-9. But the number one north seeded Cardinals (16-4) outscored the Bears 14-2 over the next three minutes, bringing the crowd to life and triggering an eventual 60-48 win for the home team.

The Bears (10-11) still led 27-24 at the half, but Dylan Walters, who would lead all scorers with 26 points, drained a three-pointer on the first possession of the third quarter for a tie. The Bears, who will travel to Olathe for a consolation game at 7 p.m. Thursday, regained the lead by as much as five points in the quarter. And after a 3-point play and subsequent free throw by Rian Creech, still led 38-36 with three minutes left in the period. But back-to-back jumpers by Walters on passes from Bubby Beecraft tied, then gave Grand Valley its first lead, 40-38, by the end of the quarter.

Despite just a two-point lead, the Cardinals opened the final quarter with a ball-control delay against Rifle’s zone, and Trevor Smith capped it with a 3-pointer for a 43-38 lead with 5:23 to go. Triston Quigley answered with a trey for the Bears, but after Church fouled out with 4:14 to play, Grand Valley made 11-of-15 free throws, while Rifle was making just 1-of-7 shots and being outscored 13-3 over the next three minutes.

Omar Melendrez contributed 19 for the Cardinals after going scoreless in the first quarter when Grand Valley made just one shot in six attempts. For the rest of the game, the Cardinals were 17-of-31. Creech led the Bears with 19 points and 9 rebouds. Church scored nine before fouling out. Carreon had 8 points, and Taylor Boone 7, with 7 rebounds.

Olathe (8-12) lost to Roaring Fork, 64-50 Tuesday, but as the 3rd seed in the South WSL, gets to host the number 4 Bears in the consolation semifinals Thursday. Rifle won 57-56 at Olathe on January 22 in their only meeting this season. The winner of Thursday’s game will play for fifth place at 10:45 a.m. Saturday at Palisade High School and the final qualifying place in the 3A state playoffs.

Haydyn Holgate scored the first two baskets of Rifle’s quarterfinal game with Cedaredge at the Bears’ Den, and she and Cortney Cordova combined for 22 points in the quarter — which would have been enough to beat the Bruins if the Lady Bears hadn’t scored another basket in the 60-15 victory. The Bears led 31-0 after the first period, and 42-4 at halftime. Coach Stephanie Heald pulled her starters midway through the third period and with the score 53-7 after three quarters, the reserves finished the game.

Cordova scored 18 with 7 steals; Holgate finished with 9 and 5 rebounds. Makayla Wilkins scored 8, and Tresa Berner and Joey Kuheim each had 7. Racheal Keithley scored just three points but had 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.

The Bears (20-0) will meet the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal game between host Gunnison (South, number 2; 13-6) and Basalt (North, number 3; 6-12) in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal at Palisade High School. All semifinal teams automatically advance to the 32-team 3A state playoffs along with the consolation champion.