GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado - Rifle High School's boys basketball team had been making teams play catch up during its month-long, nine-game winning streak. The Durango Demons made the Bears play catch up all night Friday.
William Frownfelter scored a game-high 17 points for Durango, which led for all but the first four minutes of the game and held on for a 38-33 semifinal-round victory in the Class 4A Southwestern League/Western Slope League District Tournament at Brownson Arena.
"We didn't execute incredibly well by any stretch of the means," Rifle coach Roger Walters said. "But by the same token, they're good. [Durango] is the No. 1 seed for a reason, and they showed that."
The Demons, the tournament's top-seeded team, moved into today's title game at 2:30 p.m. today against Palisade, a 49-44 winner over Eagle Valley. Rifle (11-9), which came in as the No. 4 seed, will play for third place against the Devils at 11:30 this morning. Both games will be played at Brownson Arena.
Rifle was outrebounded 33-24 and was limited to just 30.9 percent shooting (13 of 42) from the field. Still, the Bears' defense held up enough to give them a chance in the last half of the fourth quarter.
After a 3-point-play from Nick Hamlin gave the Demons a 33-23 cushion with seven minutes, seven seconds left in the fourth quarter, a pair of foul shots and a 3-pointer from Rifle's Trent Brown put the Bears within five points with 4:53 remaining. Frownfelter, however, nailed a pair of foul shots off an intentional foul called on Rifle.
And although another pair of free throws from Brown pulled Rifle within 35-31 with 1:22 remaining, Durango milked the clock and hit 3-of-4 attempts from the foul line down the stretch to seal it.
"Not a lot of people would have expected us to be in the [district] final four at Christmas time," Walters said. "Every game that this group plays together will make us better down the road."
Brown's nine points paced Rifle's scoring. Jake Statler and Tanner Rust added six, as did Durango's Isiah Mayberry and Hamlin.
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado - The Rifle High School girls held league champion Delta to just nine first-half points, but the second-seeded Panthers weren't to be denied a shot at the 4A Western District basketball championship.
Down by two points after the third quarter, Delta went on a 12-4 run through the final eight minutes of play to win Friday's district tournament semifinal game, 32-26.
With the win, Delta (18-3) secured a spot in today's title game against Montrose.
Rifle (14-7), seeded third in the tournament, will play for third place against Glenwood Springs. Game time will be 10 a.m. today at Brownson Arena on the Colorado Mesa University campus.
Regardless of the outcome, Rifle will earn one of the district tournament's seven berths into next week's 4A regionals.
Rifle's Chante Church and Annie Schmidt helped key the Bears to an early lead, 17-9 at halftime. But Delta's Skylyn Webb, held scoreless in the first half, finally caught fire as the Panthers claimed the momentum late in the third quarter.
The Bears stayed within reach after giving up the lead when Webb hit a pair of free throws with four minutes, 45 seconds to play to make it 26-24 Delta.
But the combination of Webb and fellow Delta senior Callie Gafford down the stretch was too much for Rifle to handle.
Church, who had 10 points for the game, connected on a pair from the charity stripe with 1:03 to play to pull the Bears within four points. But that was as close as they'd get, as the Panthers held on for the win.
Gafford led all scorers with 14 points, while Webb had 10 for the Panthers.
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado - Holly Brooks scored a game-high 14 points for the Indians, who nearly doubled up on the Glenwood Springs girls by halftime of their 52-25 tournament semifinal victory.
The loss dropped the Demons into the tournament's third-place game, where Glenwood will play Rifle at 10 a.m. today at Brownson Arena. Montrose, the tournament's top seed, will play second-seeded Delta at 1 p.m. today for the tournament title.
Delaney Gaddis, who was limited to just 1-of-8 shooting from beyond the 3-point line, finished with 11 points to lead Glenwood. Madi Spence added eight points and Hailey Armstrong chipped in four points and eight rebounds.
Montrose led 29-15 at halftime, building on a 12-4 cushion after one quarter.
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado - The Glenwood Springs boys dropped into the seventh-place game of the district tournament after falling 53-47 to Steamboat Springs in a consolation-bracket game at Grand Junction Central High School.
The Demons will play for the district's final Class 4A regional tournament seed at 11:30 a.m. today at Central High School. They'll play Battle Mountain, which fell 71-43 to Montrose in the tournament's other consolation game. Steamboat will play Montrose for fifth place at 2:30 p.m. today.
- John Stroud contributed to this report