RIFLE — The fast-paced transition game of the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team was too much for the Rifle Bears to keep up with on Tuesday night.
Zach Dunklin scored a game-high 14 points with three second-half 3-pointers, helping Steamboat take a big second-quarter lead before pulling away in the second half for a 52-33 Class 4A Western Slope League victory at the Rifle High gymnasium.
“We’re shooting the ball really well as of late,” Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. “We’re finding some confidence and consistency from the 3-point line. And against the defense that they’re playing, you have to do that.”
Indeed they did. Steamboat (9-3 overall, 4-2 4A WSL) shot 54.3 percent (19 for 35) from the field, including 50 percent (6 for 12) from downtown. That, plus the 17 turnovers the Sailors forced, helped the Sailors build on a 37-25 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“We didn’t do a lot of things well tonight, or right,” Rifle coach Roger Walters said. “And when you don’t play the game right, this is what you’re going to get. We deserved to get whipped. It’s that simple, and it’s because we didn’t play the game right.”
Trenton Brown finished with 13 points and Wyatt Robinson and Tanner Rust each contributed five points for Rifle, which was outrebounded 23-17. It was the turnovers that the Sailors forced, however, that gave them control of the game in the second quarter.
A steal and layup from Matthew Lanning to start the second quarter, followed by a fast-break layup from Carter Kounovsky, sparked a 9-0 Steamboat run to start the second stanza for an 18-8 Sailors lead. Rifle (6-3, 3-2 league) did inch back at the start of the second half with a 10-4 run to start the third quarter — pulling Rifle within 28-23 — but a layup from Lanning, followed by a putback slam by 6-foot-9 Steamboat center Garrett Bye, put the Sailors up 32-23 with 2 minutes, 1 second left in the third. Steamboat kept control the rest of the way.
Rifle will play next at Delta on Friday. The Sailors stay on the road and play at Glenwood Springs on Saturday afternoon.
Rifle 35, Steamboat Springs 18
RIFLE — Carsyn Copeland finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Bears (3-6 overall, 3-2 league), who limited the Sailors (7-5, 2-4) to single-digit scoring in each quarter thanks to its pressure defense.
Chante Church, who also had a double-double, finished with a game-high 14 points and 10 rebounds. Copeland, however, was the catalyst of the Bears’ big second-quarter run, converting a three-point play with 7:02 left in the second quarter that sparked a 15-2 run and pushed the Bears’ cushion to 23-7 with 1:01 left before halftime.
“In practice we’ve been working on defense and boxing out,” Copeland said. “I think that we just executed well tonight.”
Rifle finished the game with a 43-17 rebounding edge, including a 23-3 advantage on the boards at halftime.
Steamboat senior Maddie Robinson finished with 11 points to pace the Sailors, scoring seven of her team’s nine first-half points.