GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado - The Rifle High School girls stormed to an early lead against rival Glenwood Springs and never looked back, en route to a 46-25 third-place win in the girls 4A Western Slope District Tournament on Saturday morning.
Unlike in Friday's semifinal against Delta when the No. 3 seed Bears left the door wide open in the third quarter for the second-seeded Panthers to escape with a win, Rifle came out of the locker room like they had nothing - or everything - to lose.
"We spent a big part of halftime talking about that, and I just told them to go out there like we're 10 points down," Rifle coach Rick Schmitz said. "When you go out with that mindset, and when you play defense like we did, that's how you win games."
With tough defensive play by Joey Kuheim, Jasmine Figueira and Brenda Reyes, and consistent scoring by Chante Church, who had a game-high 23 points, Rifle kept the Demons from ever really getting on track.
Kuheim, who scored 10 points for the Bears, said the win gives her team some confidence going into this week's regional playoffs.
"We came out really strong to start the game, and never let up on our defense," Kuheim said. "It was a fun game, and it's just a blast playing with this group."
No. 5 Glenwood did pull to within two points, 15-13, early in the second quarter on a 3-pointer by sophomore Jordan DeCrow. But a Rifle steal and a 3-point answer from Church opened a 10-0 scoring run for the Bears.
"That was pretty shocking, actually," said Glenwood coach Jacky Gaddis, who was at a loss for an explanation of her team's poor play.
"Yesterday, it was more that we were playing scared," she said of a 52-25 semifinal loss to top seed and eventual district tournament champion Montrose (67-41 winners over Delta on Saturday).
"Today, we just didn't play," Gaddis said.
DeCrow had seven points for the Demons, while junior Delaney Gaddis chipped in six.
Rifle (15-7) and Glenwood Springs (13-8) both await their first-round 4A regional playoff opponents in pairings to be announced later today. Opening-round games will be played at the home sites of the higher-seeded teams on Tuesday.