Bears win big game over Lady Devils hoops
GYPSUM — Gypsum’s not been a good place for Rifle girls basketball the last few years, so the Bears were more than happy to log a 57-48 win over the Devils on Friday night here in a battle of two of the best teams in the 4A Slope.
The Bears (8-2 overall and 4-1 in the 4A Slope) overcame a 41-31 third-quarter deficit behind 22 points from sophomore Elly Walters and Samantha Hinkle’s 15.
“After we got down 10, I called a timeout, and offered them some motivation,” Bears coach Kristy Wallner said, taking some time before choosing the word, motivation. “I told them to chip away. It was one possession at a time. The kids knew there was a lot of game left.”
There was and the Bears did.
While Rifle needed offense, it also needed a way of slowing down Eagle Valley’s Kylie Martin. She had 16 points in the first half, but only four in the second. Enter Hinkle, who put on the clamps.
“It wasn’t just Sam,” Wallner said. “Team defense is a concept. Sam worked extremely hard. She got position early. (Martin) still dropped 20.”
After the Devils (8-4, 5-1) started the second half with a 10-0 run for 41-31 lead, the Bears started to chip. Walters, Reese Hoffmeister and Hinkle all had buckets in the third to close the lead to 43-39.
Hinkle had two freebies to tie the game at 45 and Walters had the next three to put the Bears up for good.
“We played really well,” Devils coach Sam Bartlett said. “ We shot the heck out of the ball in the first half. We missed a couple in the second. I felt we stopped attacking the basket a bit. We settled for some outside shots and got away from the dribble drive.”
From there, Rifle played a four-corners offense, which would have made Dean Smith proud. Though that took a lot of time off the clock in fourth quarter, the Devils closed it to 53-49 with two Ashley Floyd free throws and had opportunities narrow that more, but to no avail.
“It’s good to play a game like that at this point in the regular season,” Bartlett said. “Both sides played well. We’ll watch the film and see what we can improve on.”
“It’s a really big win,” Hinkle said. “We’ve lost to them for three years here, so this has been a focus all season.”
The Bears are home today for Montrose in game that should be significant for district seeding. Meanwhile, the Devils are off until next weekend when they host Delta and Palisade.
Bears boys complete sweep
Rifle boys basketball remained one of only two undefeated teams in the 4A Slope with an 44-21 win over Eagle Valley on Friday night in Gypsum.
The Bears are 9-1 overall and 5-0 in the league —with Glenwood, Rifle’s archrival, sitting at 3-0 in the Slope.
“Defensively, I thought we played really good. We rebounded well,” Bears coach Roger Walters said. “That was a big factor.”
“That’s a very good team,” Devils coach Chris Walls said. “I commend them. Their lead in our district is well deserved.”
Rifle jumped out to a 16-3 lead after the first quarter as Luis Carreon dropped seven points in the first eight minutes, while Avery Lujan popped two from downtown.
Eagle Valley (3-9, 1-5) struggled with Rifle’s size for most of the evening.
‘They’re a football team out there. I know they’re a big football school,” Walls joked. “We have to get more physical and not get shoved around.”
Not helping matters was that Rifle slowed the game down to snail’s pace in the third quarter. It wasn’t artistic, but it was effective, as the Bears outscored the Devils, 12-0, in that stanza.
The Bears don’t normally do that, said Walters, but with the Devils being a good zone team and knowing that Eagle Valley didn’t want to man-to-man, he went with the style of play.
A silver lining for the Devils was the play of Dawson Keller, who held Rifle’s Jacob Boon, averaging 16 points per game, to seven.