The Rifle Lady Bears (22-0) are seeded second only to three-time defending state champion Holy Family (21-1) in the 32-team 3A state basketball tournament, and their first round game will be against a team they’ve already beaten twice this season by a combined score of 132-48. The Basalt Lady Longhorns (8-13) earned the 31st seed by winning the WSL 5th place game, 36-33 Saturday over Grand Valley with Jamie Matherly scoring 14 points.
Rifle will host regional games next Friday and Saturday, and play the winner of Manitou Springs (16-6, seeded 15) and DSST (Denver School of Science and Technology, 17-5, no. 18) by advancing.
WSL district runner-up Olathe (seeded 4th, 18-4), with two of its four losses to Rifle, is also hosting a regional, playing Bayfield (9-13, no. 28). Third place winner Gunnison (15-7, no. 14) meets Clear Creek (16-6, no. 19) in the Pagosa Springs (21-0, no. 3) regional. Coal Ridge (13-9, no. 25) travels to Denver to meet the host Pinnacle Charter School (17-6, no. 8).
Teams winning Saturday’s Sweet 16 games advance to the Great 8 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Thursday, March 10.
FOUR WSL TEAMS PAIRED IN BOYS REGIONALS
The Roaring Fork Rams (15-7), by winning the 3A Western Slope League district tournament, earned a 7th seed in the state playoffs and will host a four-team regional, meeting Bennett (14-9, no. 26) in the first round. Third place Coal Ridge (13-9, no. 18) is in the same region, playing Jefferson Academy (15-7, no. 15), but will have to get by host Colorado Springs Christian (22-0, no. 2) in order to meet the Rams in the Great 8 at CSU, March 10. The other match-up in Roaring Fork’s region is Weld Central (18-4, no. 10) vs. Cleark Creek (13-10, no. 23).
The fourth place Grand Valley Cardinals (16-6, no. 20) play Dolores Herta (19-3, no. 13) in the first round and could eventually meet district consolation champion Olathe (10-12, no. 28) if the Pirates get past host Pagosa Springs (17-3, no. 5) and reach the Great 8 in the Dick Katte Region.
Only Aspen (14-8, no. 14), dethroned as three-time district champs by Roaring Fork, escaped a league foe in the Bob Chavez (long-time Glenwood Springs coach) Region. The Skiers meet The Academy Charter School (14-9, no. 19) in the first round in Greeley, where Valley (18-4, no. 3) is hosting. The number one seed in the tournament is three-time defending champion Faith Christian (21-1).
COAL RIDGE BOYS TAKE 3rd IN DISTRICTS; GIRLS, 4th
Rebounding from the disappointment of a semifinal loss to Aspen, the Coal Ridge Titans played with energy and enthusiasm to outlast Grand Valley 63-57 Saturday and take third place in the 3A district tournament at Palisade High School. Unlike the third quarter collapse that cost them a halftime lead against Aspen, when the Titans fell behind for the first time early in the second half, they bounced back with a pair of 3-pointers from McCade Cox and Tyler Guettler in an 8-0 answer for a 41-38 lead they never relinquished.
When Trevor Smith closed the margin to one, Alec Herrera hit his only trey of the game, and the Titans maintained a 45-42 lead going into the final frame. Nathan Terrin scored twice in the opening minute and Guettler splashed a 3-pointer as Coal Ridge began the quarter with with an 11-3 run to lead by 11 with 4:45 to go. The Cardinals rallied within six, but Terrin’s long-distance pass led to a layup by McCade Cox and Guettler converted a 3-point play. When Terrin made one-of-two at the line, the Titans held their largest lead, 62-50 with 2:38 remaining to wrap up third place.
Cox and Terrin each tallied 17, with the 6-5 Terrin also hauling down 13 rebounds to go with 4 assists. Guettler added 13 points and Darik Brown 10, along with 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Omar Melendrez led Grand Valley with 23 points before being one of three Cardinals to foul out in the fourth quarter. Dylan Walters also fouled out and was held to just 5 points. Walters had scored 26 against Rifle in Tuesday’s 60-48 quarterfinal win.
The Titans were seeded 18th in the state tournament and meet Broomfield’s Jefferson Academy (15-7, no. 15) in the first round of the state tournament, with the winner likely to play host Colorado Springs Christian (22-0, no. 2), Saturday March 5.
GUNNISON GIRLS 51, COAL RIDGE 30
Featuring five girls 5-10 or taller (including four starters), the Gunnison Cowgirls held 6-0 Carly Cloninger, the Titans’ leading scorer, to just three points for the game in a 51-30 win to take third place in districts. Sophomore Alyssa Nelson scored 8 in the first quarter as Gunnison jumped out to a 17-4 lead. Chasity Gonzales hit a pair of treys as Coal Ridge outscored the Cowgirls, 7-6 in the second frame, but Nelson and her 6-0 senior sister Kjirsten combined combined for 11 in the third quarter to push the lead to 40-22. Ashlie Bowles scored 7 second half points, but the Titans missed 20 of 26 second-half shots to finish fourth in districts.