Rifle outlasts Huskies in OT
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” A funny thing happened on the way to the regularly-scheduled Rifle boys basketball’s easy win over Battle Mountain Saturday night ” a really good basketball game broke out.
The visiting Bears got all they could handle from the Huskies, needing key buckets from Tyler Rust and Jacob Massey along with some clutch free throws from Eric Laudick to hold off Battle Mountain for a 65-63 overtime victory.
“(Battle Mountain) coach (Philip) Tronsrue’s been here a long time, about as long as I have,” Bear coach Chris Lowther said. “We know each other pretty well. He knows some things I try to do. I know some things her tries to do. We always expect a tough game.”
The Huskies and Bears played an extra four minutes with Battle Mountain taking the lead on a 3-point play from Parker Lathrop. With 2:11 left in overtime, Rifle’s Rust, who finished the night with 24 points, gave the Bears the lead for good at 59-58.
Massey had an eight-foot jumper and a put-back to boost his team’s advantage for 63-60 with 51 ticks left on the clock. Massey ended the night with 23 points.
Then it all came down to Laudick. The Huskies fouled, sending the senior to the line. He hit both ends on the 1-and-1, giving the Bears the win.
“I have a lot of faith in Eric,” said Lowther, whose team moved to 3-1 in the 4A Slope and 6-6 overall. “He’s our only senior, and he’s been playing varsity basketball since he was a sophomore. I’d rather not have anyone else on the line because we wants to do well.”
For Battle Mountain (0-4, 0-12), the loss will hurt, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.
“This was a much better effort,” Tronsrue said. “We played with a lot of intensity, a lot of hustle, a lot heart and desire. Those were four words I put up on the board tonight before the game started. I said, ‘Let’s come out with that and see where the chips may fall.” We were in it. We’re not used to playing with the lead. We tried playing with the lead late in the ball game. We didn’t execute quite the way we wanted it to and it cost us.”
The Huskies trailed 49-43 with six minutes left in regulation, but rallied behind two lay-ups from Mitch Cooley, who had a game-high 26 points. Consecutive treys by Shawn Martinez and Parker Lathrop put Battle Mountain up 53-49 with 3:52 to go.
Rifle pulled even at 55 thanks to put-back from Massey and an 8-footer from Ryan Davis. With 40 seconds left in regulation, Rifle played for the win, but Rust turned the ball over to the Huskies’ Edward Banegas. He streaked toward the Rifle end, but Massey took a key charge, sending the game into overtime.
Rifle is home for Steamboat Springs Friday, before heading up to Moffat County Saturday. The Huskies are at Delta Friday and then home for Palisade Saturday.
There was no drama in the girls’ game.
The Bears jumped out to a 21-3 first-quarter lead on the way to an easy 69-18 win over Battle Mountain in Saturday’s lidlifter.
Don’t look now, but Rifle’s 4-0 in the 4A Slope (9-3 overall), heading into a big weekend, which includes a Saturday game at Moffat County.
“With this league, you have to (have a good start),” Bears coach Stephanie Heald said. “It’s usually a battle between us Glenwood and Moffat. If we can get some wins and get on top, that’s going to help us in the long run.”
Senior Sandy Samson paced Rifle with 15 points while super sophs Cortney Cordova had 12 and Makayla Wilkins and Ciara Euler each knocked down 10, as the Huskies fell to 0-12.
“They all have big hearts,” Huskies coach Andrew Schmid said. “They all want to play and they want to do well. They all understand where we’re at as a team. We can’t control what happens except playing our hardest on the court. I really think they’re playing hard. The big thing we’re lacking is experience.”
Kenia Olivas led the Huskies with nine points.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.