KMTS BASKETBALL: Lady Bears Climb Over Green Mountain to Sweet Sixteen

RIFLE (2/24/17) – Newton’s third law of motion was proven again and again as the Rifle Lady Bears edged Green Mountain in a topsy-turvy, Jekyll and Hyde 38-35 second-round 4A playoff game.

For every action the number 13-seeded Bears (21-3) took, from Elly Walters’ opening game basket to her seeming 3-point dagger with 3:50 to go in the game that put Rifle up by seven, the number 20-seeded Rams (11-14) reacted.

Green Mountain eventually took its first lead of the second half 31-30 on a 3-point play by Corrina Archuleta with 1:41 remaining to decide who would advance to the Sweet Sixteen to play number 4-seeded Air Academy, Tuesday, Feb. 28.

With 83 seconds to play, Peyton Caldwell made a decisive play under the Bears’ basket, saving the possession by flipping Walters’ pass that was heading out of bounds off a Ram defender. Given new life, the Bears’ Samantha Hinkle turned from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll, tying the game by making the front of a one-and-one with 54 seconds left. The Bear senior had missed four straight free throws earlier in the game, but, with no hesitation, then made her secnd shot for a 32-31 lead Rifle would not lose.

The Rams’ game-long reaction to every Bear action finally failed. Brecon Antrillo, given a one-and-one attempt at the other end, missed. Hinkle, who had only four points through the first three quarters, grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and again made both pressure-packed one-and-one attempts for a 34-31 Rifle lead with 24 seconds to play.

Antrillo, who had hoisted an astounding 167 three-point tries during the season, but was only 1-of-7 vs the Bears missed two attempts to tie and the Rifle players raced towards their bench, leaping into the arms of teammates.

The Newtonian see-saw ride began early as Green Mountain used 3-pointers by Antrillo and Shelby Ransom, to finish the first quarter on a 12-0 run. Trailing by ten, Hinkle’s put-back and a 3-point play by Walters triggered a 9-0 second-quarter start, capped by Katy Manuppella’s trey that left the Bears down one, 12-11 with 2:35 to go in the half.

Rifle missed its last four free throws in the quarter, but Walters’ rebounded one of Hinkle’s errant tries with 3 ticks on the clock, and tied the game at 13.

The Bears quickly took their first lead since the game’s opening possession when Walters rifled a pass to Caldwell, extending it to 22-13 with a 9-0 opening salvo, again capped by Manuppella’s shot beyond the arc with 4:40 left in the quarter.

But Green Mountain, which went 0-for-5 from downtown in the period, scored three straight baskets to close the Bear advantage to one, 22-21 heading into the final frame.

The Rams continued to miss from beyond the arc and Rifle built a 30-23 lead when Walters took a rebound, raced upcourt and popped a 3-pointer with 3:50 to go. Savannah Hapke answered by breaking her team’s 0-for-11 spell from long-distance to begin an 8-0 surge, setting up the Bears’ winning response.

Walters’ fourth-quarter trey gave her 14 for the game and 1,000 points in her varsity career; she also pulled down 8 rebounds and had 3 assists, playing the entire fourth quarter with four fouls. Hinkle and Manuppella each score eight for the Bears. Archuleta and Antrillo paced the Rams with ten points apiece.

Air Academy (20-4) and Discovery Canyon (16-8) were co-leaders of the 5A/4A Pikes Peak League. The Kadets defeated Berthoud, 51-16 in the second round and have six players with 30 or more steals this season, averaging 12 a game, but have lost two of their last four games, 42-39 at Lewis Palmer and 53-31 at Falcon.

About Jack Jabbour

High school sports analyst

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