GRAND JUNCTION CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL (2/21/13) – In a second homecoming for Rifle boys coach Roger Walters, his team won its ninth straight game by the slimmest margin, 29-28 over Steamboat Springs to advance to the quarterfinals of the 4A Western Slope District tournament against top-seeded Montrose, Friday at Colorado Mesa University.
The Bears (12-8) were Quick to start and Quick to finish, but nearly stuck in quicksand inbetween in Walters’ return to the court where he coached the CMU Lady Mavs last season before returning to Rifle for his second stint as boys coach at his alma mater.
Tanner Quick opened Thursday’s game with a steal and thunderous dunk at the other end, helping Rifle to an early 4-0 lead against the Sailors at Central High School, then added a jumper from the free throw line for a 6-3 lead and the last score of the period with 3:45 left in the quarter. Adam Rice hit a jumper and a 3-pointer at the outset of the second stanza for an 11-3 lead, but Rifle wouldn’t score again for four-and-a-half minutes, while the Sailors pulled within 11-9 at the 2:47 mark.
Quick and Wyatt Robinson broke the scoring drought for the Bears in the last two minutes, giving Rifle a 15-9 halftime lead. Then the pace really slowed down… the Bears recording just a single free throw by Quick in the third quarter, yet Steamboat managed just 6 points in the frame to trail 16-15 going into the final 8 minutes.
Ben Custer’s jumper gave Steamboat its first lead one minute into the last quarter and a 3-pointer by Carter Kounovsky increased the advantage to 20-16, capping an 11-0 stretch for the Sailors. The Sailors missed an opportunity to extend the lead much, making just one of four free throws, but crept ahead 21-16 as the Bears failed to score for the first 4:12 in the quarter.
Finally, Trenton Brown took matters into his hands, driving through the Sailor zone to score and made the “and one” with 3:39 left in the game. Kounovsky made four straight free throws surrounded a bank shot by Quick, giving Steamboat a 25-21 lead with 2:31 to play.
Brown came off a high pick by Quick to score on another drive and a crisp pass from Rice to Quick tied the game at 25 with 1:14 left. The teams exchanged leads when Jake Statler made two free throws followed by a Kounovsky trey with 13.4 seconds remaining, giving Steamboat a 28-27 lead.
Walters called a timeout and Tanner Rust found Quick inside from the right baseline and the 6-6 junior beat his man to the hoop to give Rifle its final margin with two seconds left.
Quick and Kounovsky led the scoring with 13 points apiece with Brown and Custer adding seven each. Rifle meets top-seeded Durango (15-5) at Colorado Mesa University Friday. The Demons easily dispatched Battle Mountain Thursday, 52-32. Steamboat will play Glenwood Springs in a Consolation game at Central High School Friday.
RIFLE GIRLS 42, STEAMBOAT SPRINGS 32
Third-seeded Rifle started slowly, falling behind sixth-seeded Steamboat Springs (11-10) in the first quarter, but the Lady Bears (14-6) found a higher gear while shackling the Sailors on defense for a 42-32 win Thursday to set up a quarterfinal game with second-seeded Delta (17-3) Friday at Colorado Mesa University.
Each team made just 3-of-8 first period shots, but when McKenzie Repollo hit a three-pointer at quarter’s end, Steamboat led 10-8. The drought from the field continued in the second for both teams until Chante Church banked in a shot halfway through the quarter to cut the Sailor lead to 12-11. But Alice Holmquist answered with a three and Nikki Fry’s free throws increased the margin to 17-11 with 3:05 left in the half.
Suddenly the Bears awoke, scoring the final 11 points to lead 22-17 at halftime. The run began with a pass from Jasmine Figueira to Kimmie Rausin for a layup; Joey Kuheim and Church made 4-straight free throws and Taylor Walters splashed a three on a kick-out pass from Kuheim and when Church fired a long in-bounds pass to Kuheim for a layup with 10 seconds left, the Bears were in control.
The teams wallowed in a 5-4 third-quarter morass, leaving Rifle up 26-22, but Church nailed a three to snap a six-minute drought to open the fourth and combined with Kuheim for all but two of the Bears’ 16-10 fourth-quarter advantage.
Church led the scoring with 18, followed by 14 from Kuheim. Rausin had 5 points and 7 rebounds for the Bears, who have lost two close games to Delta this season, 47-41 and 49-44. The Panthers went undefeated in the Western Slope League and have won 17 straight.