GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Rivalries often bring out the best in teams. Last night, the Glenwood Springs and Rifle girls took turns taking their best shots at each other with the Lady Bears coming out on top, 70-63, in a thrilling double-overtime contest.
By the end of regulation, the Glenwood gym was rocking and rolling, with fans from both teams agreeing the game was well worth the $5 charge for admission.
"It was so much fun to play in that kind of atmosphere," said Rifle senior Joey Kuheim. "There was so much energy in the gym. You could really feel it."
The game was fast, furious and clean with minimal fouling and maximum excitement. The Demons (6-4, 10-4) were boasting a three-game winning streak, a 6-1 home record and an average home winning margin of 20-points. Rifle (6-3, 8-5) was coming off of back-to-back close losses to first-place Delta. But when it comes to an emotional rivalry, stats are usually moot.
"Whenever we play Rifle, you know both teams are coming to play," said Glenwood junior Delaney Gaddis, who led the Demons with 21 points. "Both teams played with class and sportsmanship. They're fun to compete against."
Gaddis started the game off by hitting the first shot taken in the game - a 3-pointer - as Glenwood raced to a 14-7 lead midway through the first quarter. Rifle answered with junior Chante Church, who tallied eight of her game-high 24 points in the final minutes of the first period as Rifle took a 20-16 lead. The Bears were up 29-20 before Glenwood chopped the lead to 31-27. A last-second 3-pointer from Rifle's Taylor Walters gave the visitors a 34-27 advantage at the half.
Both teams turned up the defense in the third quarter as Rifle stretched its lead to 42-31. The Demons struggled to get good looks at the basket throughout the third quarter and were 1-for-9 from the field.
The fourth quarter was a much different story.
Glenwood connected on six of its first seven shots in the final eight minutes and rode the hot-hand of Gaddis as they knotted the score at 50-50 with two minutes left in regulation. Both Church and Gaddis made 3-pointers in the final minute as regulation ended at 53-53, forcing the contest into the first overtime.
When the Lady Demons took a 57-54 lead in overtime, it was their first advantage since the first quarter. But as the game went along, Glenwood simply couldn't stop Kuheim inside. The 5-foot-9 senior had two huge lay-ins in OT and gave Rifle a 61-60 lead with 30 seconds to play. The Bears were up 62-60 with less than 10 seconds to play, but Gaddis made a lay-in off a nifty backdoor pass with four seconds remaining in OT to send the game into a second extra period.
The Rifle defense took over in the second OT, and Church iced the game with five points in the period, giving Rifle a hard-earned 70-63 road win.
"We got a little tentative in he fourth quarter," said Rifle coach Rick Schmitz. "But part of that was the Glenwood defense. What a great basketball game for the fans."
Up next, Rifle will host Steamboat Springs Saturday at 4 p.m. Glenwood has an eight-day break before playing first-place Delta at home on Feb. 8.
Rifle boys beat Glenwood 54-27
Rifle coach Roger Walters has been preaching the sermon of defense all year to his team, and last night it paid of in a big way as the Bears shut down Glenwood Springs in a 54-27 road win.
The Bears (3-6, 5-8) forced 15 turnovers while holding the Demons to 16 percent shooting from the field. Glenwood (3-7, 4-11) didn't make a basket until the final second of the first quarter and trailed 26-4 at halftime.
"Defensively, we were solid early," said Rifle coach Roger Walters. "We played smart enough to find the mismatches. Our guys are trying real hard to do what we [the coaches] want."
Rifle juniors Wyatt Robinson and Tanner Quick led the Bears with 14 points each. Senior Grant Fegan paced the Demons with 10 points.
Rifle opened the game by nailing five of its first six shots while Glenwood struggled to get on track offensively. The Bears were up 14-3 at the end of the first quarter and 26-4 at the half.
Glenwood played much better offensively in the second half but didn't have an answer for the Bears inside attack.
"Rifle's defense was real good tonight," said Glenwood coach Cory Hitchcock. "They really caught us off guard. We had our chances early on, but you can't score four points in a half and expect to win."
Rifle plays at home Saturday against Steamboat Springs with a 5:30 p.m. tipoff. The Demons will meet Delta at Glenwood on Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m.