FORT COLLINS (3-10-11) — Eaton had a score to settle with the Western Slope after getting bounced from the 3A state girls basketball tournament on the Lady Reds home court by Coal Ridge last season. Seniors Beth Chaney and Jordan Needens made sure their shot at a high school state title wasnt derailed by another WSL team as they combined for 24 points and 19 rebounds in a 50-34 wire-to-wire win over the previously undefeated Rifle Lady Bears in the Great 8 at CSU Thursday.
Theyre a team a lot like us, coach Stephanie Heald said of the 7th-seeded Reds (21-3), who went undefeated in the Patriot League. Theyre quick, they press and rely on their defense, Heald said before tipoff of Thursdays final quarterfinal game. The quickness was apparent very early as the Bears usually devastating full court press was ineffective, and 5-5 freshman Kayla Cheney held senior scoring leader Cortney Cordova (20.6 points per game) scoreless in the first half and to just two points on 1-for-10 shooting for the game.
The Reds swarming man-to-man defense also disrupted the Bears precision passing game, limiting Rifle to 5-of 20 shooting for the first half as they fell behind 16-7 in the first quarter and 25-11 at halftime — the biggest deficit the Bears faced all season.
A late third-quarter flurry by the Bears pared six points off a 20-point Reds lead as Cordova found Racheal Keithley for two, hit her first and only basket a moment later, and Haydn Holgate finished the 6-0 run with a driving jumper. But the Bears missed their last three shots of the quarter and still trailed 36-22 going into the final frame.
Any hope of a Rifle rally was snuffed out as the 5-4 elder Chaney was fouled on a put-back attempt on her way to a dozen rebounds for the game, set up Karli Jelden for a pair of layups and capped a 7-0 run with two more free throws, that gave Eaton a 43-22 lead with 5:22 remaining.
Rifle freshman Chante Church provided the most promising highlight for the Bears by scoring 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the games final five minutes. That production led the Bears in scoring with Makayla Wilkins (2-of-3 treys) adding 8. No one else scored more than four as Rifle finished by making just 14 of 47 shots and only going to the line twice in the game.
The 2nd-seeded Bears (24-1) still have a chance to bring home some hardware as they move to the consolation bracket for a 1:15 p.m. game Friday against Estes Park (no. 6, 18-7 and runner-up to Eaton in the Patriot League), which lost by a point, 35-34 to Pagosa Springs (no. 3, 24-0), the only remaining undefeated team in the tournament. The Bear-Bobcat winner will play for the consolation championship Saturday at 11:30 a.m. versus the Pinnacle (19-7), Machebeuf (18-7) winner.
The Roaring Fork boys are also in the consolation semifinals against Brush, playing right before the Rifle-Estes Park game at 11:45 a.m. Friday. Both games will be broadcast on KMTS-fm and online at kmts.com.