Vail Valley preps: Bears sweep Devils
GYPSUM – The way things were going Friday night, the Rifle Middle School Cubs were going to have to close out things against Eagle Valley.
“It looked that way for a while,” Rifle girls basketball coach Stephanie Heald joked. “We needed to find someone to suit up for us.”
Despite an avalanche of foul trouble, the Bears (3-0 in the Slope and 6-4 overall) were able to hang on for a 59-37 win at Eagle Valley on Friday night.
Rifle finished the night with Nicole Karr, Makayla Williams and Ciara Euller all on the bench with five fouls.
“That’s why we called the timeout (with 4:33 left in the game),” Heald said. “I pulled them close to me in the huddle because I knew the (Rifle) parents were upset. I told them, ‘It’s just us.’ It was our way of finishing the game.”
In fairness, no one is ever happy with officiating at a high school game, but one thing all involved could agree upon is that Rifle’s Courtney Cordova is pretty darn good. She lit up the Devils (0-4, 7-5) for a game-high 24 points, including two 3s in the first quarter.
“Her play is good in every way,” Heald said. “She starts the game well. She runs the floor well. She sees the floor well. She shots. She passes.”
That quarter proved to be decisive as the Bears too a 19-6 lead. Eagle Valley had an opportunity t get back into the game in the second period with Rifle spending a good portion of that session in the double bonus. Yet the Devils were not able to get the ball inside – and the ensuing trips to the free-throw line – because they are without their point guard Brenda Zapata, who went down with an injury last weekend.
“Right now we’re trying to train a new point guard to take control of the court,” Devils coach Jamie Mayne said. “It’s hard to do that. We’re green in that area. It hasn’t been a week.”
Nicole Harvey and Cori Cramer got the point duties Friday night and did their best, but most high schools just don’t have a Steve Nash lying around.
Emily Kingston and Jazmin Zapata each had 11 points for the Devils. Eagle Valley’s Kayla Gagnon had eight.
Defense keys Bears win
Rifle boys basketball coach Chris Lawther thought his defense was playing well at the half. After all, his team was leading Eagle Valley, 20-17, after 16 minutes.
“We held Eagle to 17 points,” Lowther said. “What we wanted our defense to do was get us some easy offense. We wanted the defense to get the offense going.”
Apparently, it was a good halftime talk because the Bears’ defense smothered the Devils early in the second half as a part of a 16-5 run on their way to 54-41 victory over the Devils.
The transition game which resulted from Rifle’s defense hurt Eagle Valley in two ways, according to Devils coach Pat Gabriel.
“We need some time for our injuries to heal up,” he said. “That really hurt us. Right now, we’re not just full speed. Rifle was fast and so was Glenwood (Springs on Tuesday). We have a hard time when they have quick chances. And we’ve got to clean up the turnovers.”
Rian Creech led the Bears with 15 points, while Tyler Rust had 12 and Ryan Davis 11 for the Bears (2-1, 5-5). Nate Barker and Zeth Ramsey each had nine for the Devils (0-4, 3-10)
Both Rifle teams host Battle Mountain today, while Eagle Valley is off until Friday when Palisade comes to Gypsum.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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