Eagle Valley has no answers for Rifle
RIFLE – The Rifle boys basketball team compiled scoring runs of 9-0 and 11-0 in the first half, helping the Bears run on to a 77-59 win against Eagle Valley on Friday night.The Bears scored 33 of its points with 3-pointers. Zach Whitmore cashed in on five, and Tyler and Scott Rust each added three.”We knew we’d have to hit some (3-pointers) because Eagle plays that pretty tough zone and they are going to take away the inside,” said Rifle head coach Chris Lowther. “We struggle on the inside anyway, so we really practiced shooting the ball and swinging the ball to get guys open.”Despite having a 22-point lead going into the fourth quarter, Rifle faced a hard task of fending off an attempted Devils’ comeback. “Eagle does a great job and we can never put them away,” said Lowther, whose team has faced Eagle three times this year and been forced to earn its three wins by holding off come backs. “They always stay in the game, hit shots and find ways to stay in the game.”Danner Bartlett and Matt Barker were key players in Eagle’s ill-fated comeback, but Barker had to come out of the game after dislocating his thumb and possibly hurting his wrist while trying to make a diving save out-of-bounds for a ball.Then Rifle finally got closure.Whitmore’s final trey came in the last half of the fourth quarter, and according to Eagle Valley head coach Pat Gabriel, sealed the win for Rifle.”When he hit the 3 to make it 70-57, instead of that being our 3 and being within 10, it was theirs and that put it out of reach,” Gabriel said. “Up until then I thought we had an opportunity (to come back.)Eagle Valley put the first points of the game on the board with a Mike Medsker putback, but Rifle turned on its offense to score 11 straight points, including two 3-pointers from Tyler Rust, and took a 20-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.The second quarter was a 3-point show, with Zach Whitmore and Scott Rust each hitting two long bombs for Rifle and Matt Barker draining two and Danner Bartlett sinking another for the Devils. After one half, Rifle was up 42-33.The Devils spread the ball out in the second half as six Eagle Valley players scored, but it just wasn’t enough to catch up with the Bears. Defensively, Eagle Valley rejected nine of Rifle’s shots.Scott Rust totaled 27 points in the game, with a large chunk of his points coming from baseline drives. Whitmore added 18 points and Tyler Rust scored another 17.”The kids did a good job of sharing it, swinging the ball when we needed to and working it inside and outside to get some good looks,” Lowther said.Drew Blatchford recorded his second straight double-double, with the first coming against Montrose on Tuesday. Blatchford scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Eagle Valley.Bartlett led all Devil scorers with 14 points, including three treys, Barker had 13 and Bear Barkman chipped in 10.Eagle Valley (4-6 in league, 4-13 overall) will be at Glenwood.
RIFLE – The Rifle girls basketball team started with a bang, hitting four 3-pointers in the first quarter in its Class 4A Western Slope League game against Eagle Valley on Friday night.The Bears kept their scoring attack up all game for a 64-33 win over the Devils.Kendall Babler sank two shots from the perimeter, Chelsea Webb swished another and Kristin Guettler drained a trey of her own as Rifle went up 20-5 after the first eight minutes.Defensively, the Bears (8-2, 12-5) broke up passes and forced 14 turnovers in the first half, nine of which were Rifle steals. Devil Elena Hernandez was also effective from long range, making two treys in the first half as Eagle (0-10, 1-16) cut Rifle’s lead to 35-18 at halftime.Rifle continued to put points on the board in the third quarter, using crisp passing to spread the ball around.”We were patient offensively, moving the ball around, giving everybody a chance to play, get everybody some shots and they kept the intensity up on defense,” said Rifle head coach Brad Skinner. Skinner took his starters out of the game halfway through the third period. Guettler led all scorers with 13 points, Babler and Webb finished with 12 each and Megan McWilliams added another nine.Eagle Valley couldn’t buy a basket in third quarter, adding only four points to its score. “You gotta play a full game, instead of just a quarter here and a quarter there,” said Eagle Valley head coach Ken Reagan. “Inconsistency has been our weakest link the whole season.”The Devils started hitting more shots in the final frame, with Jeanette Baker leading the way with nine points in the quarter. “She came on in the third quarter, took it to the hole and scored points like she usually does,” Reagan said of Baker.Ten Bears scored in the contest and Quincey Snyder topped all Rifle bench players with six points.”It was a good game. The kids were good. The bench was good,” Skinner said. “Everybody got to play and kids came off the bench and played hard. They took good shots and made good decisions. I was happy.”