Battle Mountain takes down Rifle, 53-47 |

Battle Mountain takes down Rifle, 53-47

Baron Zahuranec
Vail, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

RIFLE, Colorado ” Picking up six fouls just over three minutes into the second half wasn’t exactly how the Rifle Bears boys wanted to open the third quarter against the visiting Battle Mountain Huskies on Saturday.

With the Huskies enjoying the bonus for more than 11 minutes, the Bears had trouble slowing them down. Battle Mountain knew that Rifle was in trouble and kept attacking the rim, helping the visitors to a 53-47 win.

“Obviously all the fouls got them in the bonus early. It wasn’t good,” Bears coach Chris Lowther said. “We have to learn how to stay down, down low. There were too many guys that were reaching in when they should have just had better position.”

The two teams fought neck-and-neck the whole game. The six-point margin for the Huskies was the largest lead of the game for either team. Battle Mountain had a slim 25-24 lead at the half, but were down by one, 39-38, heading into the fourth.

The Huskies wanted to work the ball inside to try and exploit Rifle’s foul trouble, and it worked just fine. Mitch Cooley had two inside buckets to open the fourth, and Miguel Copas was active on the boards, getting a putback to give his team a 48-45 lead with 1:19 on the clock.

Tyler Rust scored the last two points on a nice drive to the hoop for Rifle ” but there was still more than a minute left to play. Rust hoisted two 3-pointers down the stretch, but Cooley sealed the game with two free throwswith 14.5 seconds left.

“I think we executed well with the lead at the end,” Husky junior Robert Weiss said. “When they went to man, Mitch was quicker than their big guys down low. If anything against the press, we kept getting trapped along the sideline. We didn’t look to the middle enough on the press break.”

Battle Mountain did have a few turnovers when Rifle was pressing and trying to gain some sort of momentum in such a tight game. The Huskies coughed up the ball 19 times, and the Bears had one less.

“We wanted to bring the ball inside and we just kept putting it inside,” Husky coach Philip Tronsrue said. “We got lucky when Rifle started picking up those fouls. The logic for us was pound, pound, pound.”

Cooley led the way for the Huskies with 15 points, Parker Lathrop had 12, and Weiss finished the game with 11. Rifle got 17 points from Rust, Eric Laudick contributed 11, and Jacob Massey had six.

The win put the Huskies at 3-15 overall and 3-8 in 4A Western Slope League play, while the Bears fell to 6-12 and 3-7. Battle Mountain is at Palisade on Saturday, and Rifle is at Steamboat Springs on Friday.

Rifle girls suffocate Battle Mountain

The Bears were in command the whole game. Rifle built a 12-1 lead after one, and had a 27-3 lead at halftime. Switching between man and zone defense and different presses, the Bears’ defense got a 52-8 win.

“We felt tonight was our time to work on things and change it up,” Bears coach Stephanie Heald said. “We really tried to work the defense the entire time and switching off all the time.”

Rifle kept the Huskies to just five points in the second half, and almost didn’t let them score at all in the third, aside from a lone free throw from Kenia Olivas.

Husky coach Andrew Schmidt wasn’t at all pleased with the team’s performance, and they have yet to pick up a win (0-19 overall, 0-10 4A WSL).

“We didn’t play our best,” he said. “You gotta hand it to Rifle’s defense.”

Cortney Cordova had 16 points for the Bears, and Makayla Wilkins and Tresa Berner each had eight. Adriana Morken had four points for Battle Mountain.

The Bears are now 13-5 overall and third in 4A WSL at 8-2 behind Glenwood Springs and Moffat County (both 9-1).

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