KMTS Basketball: OLD “RIVALS” SPLIT AT RIFLE

RIFLE (1-30-14) — “It’s not a rivalry until the underdog wins,” a sage once said. By that measure, the often-virulent Rifle-Glenwood Springs rivalry hasn’t quite regained its former down-and-dirty status, as the Glenwood girls remained unbeaten with a 20-point win, and Roger Walters’ defense-minded Bears had their way with a Glenwood offense, handicapped by illness and injury, 52-41, in the Bears Den Thursday.

GLENWOOD GIRLS 70, RIFLE 50

When Rifle dropped down to the 3A Western Slope League a few years ago, the steam went out of the Glenwood games because they no longer affected the league standings, and Coal Ridge — at least judging by fan and student reaction — began to supplant the Demons at the top of the “Most Wanted” Bear list. But last season, Rifle returned to 4A, and the Bears won a double-OT and two-point game with the Demons.

But this season, the Lady Demons are 15-0 and fourth-ranked in the state, while the Bears are 5-7 overall after a 70-50 loss on their home court in the first meeting of the teams, January 30. Glenwood opened the game with a vengeance, following a lackluster 28-20 anomaly over Steamboat five days before, jumping out to an opening 9-2 lead.

A 3-pointer by Kailee Cordova helped the Bears get within two, but Delaney Gaddis scored 8, with a pair of treys, and Glenwood led 17-11 after one quarter. In the second period it was Jordan DeCrow’s turn to sizzle, draining two 3-pointers and scoring 13 of the Demons’ 21 points that included a 9-0 finish for a 38-22 lead at the half.

Madi Spence took over the scoring honors in the second half with 9 of her 17 points for the game as Rifle never got closer than 15 points the rest of the way. Spence added 13 rebounds, helping the Demons to a surprisingly close 36-29 edge on the boards. Glenwood’s primarily zone defense kept Chante Church out of the key and off the free throw line (where she hit 10-of-12 in scoring 25 in a win over Eagle Valley Tuesday). Church often settled for 3-point attempts, missing 10-of-11, but still managed to lead Rifle with 17 points, adding 9 rebounds.

DeCrow led all scorers with 22 points, making 8-of-9 from the line. Gaddis scored 12, with 6 assists and 4 steals. Cordova had a dozen points and 5 steals for Rifle, but also missed on 6-of-8 three-pointers. For the game, the Bears were 4-for-24 beyond the arc, while Glenwood made 4-of-9.

The win takes Glenwood to 10-0 in the WSL and drops Rifle into a 3-way tie for second with Palisade and Eagle Valley at 5-3, four full games behind the Demons in the standings.

RIFLE BOYS 52, GLENWOOD 41

Rifle (9-3, 6-2) moved into a first-place tie with Palisade (9-4, 6-2), dropping Glenwood (12-4, 7-3) into a 3-way tie for second in the WSL by making just enough free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off a frigid-shooting Demon team that was essentially playing without its two top scorers. Brian Burbidge missed his third game with a concussion, and Cam Horning played limited minutes after sitting out the last two due to the flu.

But it was the rest of the Demon shooters who looked sick as they made only 13 of 43 shots for the game, missed 13 of 23 free throws, and, until the 4th quarter, were 1-of-7 on 3-point attempts. Pete Steckler and Jared Gambrel each made a pair of treys in the final frame, cutting Rifle’s lead to single digits 3 times.

The Bears missed 9 free throws in the quarter, but Trenton Brown made 6-of-8, and his teammates managed 9-of-16 in an endless parade to the line. Rifle scored on a Tanner Quick basket to open the frame, giving the Bears a 34-22 lead. Four minutes later, Luis Carreon drove the lane for a layup, and Cody Rice scored on the last play of the game. But those baskets, each 4 minutes apart, with the free throws were enough to hold off the Demons, who shot just 5-of-17 and missed 6 of 11 from the line in the quarter.

The game started almost as slowly as it finished, with Rifle taking a 7-5 lead on Brown’s drive to the hoop near the end of the first quarter. Glenwood went without a basket until the 4-minute mark of the second period, while Wyatt Robinson and Quick helped the Bears to an 8-1 run and a 15-6 lead. Robinson, who had 8 points in the quarter, and Quick, who had 6, duplicated that streak in the final two minutes for a 25-11 Rifle halftime lead.

Glenwood opened the 3rd, outscoring the Bears 7-2, but dropped behind by 12 when Tanner Rust drained a 3-pointer. Rifle only scored two points in the final 6 minutes of the quarter, giving Glenwood a tremendous opportunity to make a game of it, but the Demons missed all 5 of their shots and made just 2-of-4 from the line, leaving a 10-point deficit.

Robinson and Brown led the Bears with 13 points apiece, Quick adding 9 and 10 rebounds. Gambrel, with 9 in the 4th quarter, led the Demons with 16. Horning had 8 points while playing about half the game. Steckler, who had 7 assists, scored 6, and Will Gray, for the 3rd straight game, provided outstanding defense on the other team’s big man, while scoring 6 with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Aside from the 2nd quarter, Quick scored just 3 points against Gray.

Glenwood is off until going to Delta (7-7, 5-3) next Friday, while Rifle travels to Steamboat (9-4, 4-3) Saturday before a home-and-away set of games with Summit (3-10, 3-6) Wednesday and Friday.

About Jack Jabbour

High school sports analyst
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