Rifle, Gwood split rivalry matchup, league titles | PostIndependent.com

Rifle, Gwood split rivalry matchup, league titles

In the final regular season installment of the Rifle-Glenwood rivalry for the 2016-17 season Thursday, two 4A Western Slope League were handed out inside Jack Smith Gymnasium as the Rifle girls basketball team clinched the 4A WSL regular season title with a 47-31 over the visiting Demons, while the Glenwood boys team clinched a share of the 4A WSL regular season title with a 44-29 win over the Bears on their home floor, marking a special night for both schools in the rivalry matchup.

"This journey kind of started last summer and it shows how much work the girls have put in and how far they've come," Rifle Head Coach Kristy Wallner said. "Believing in the system, being coachable and maybe even sacrificing some of their own stuff for the good of the team, that's why we're cutting the net down tonight; I'm so proud of these girls."

Starting things off with girl's basketball action inside Jack Smith Gymnasium Thursday night, the Rifle Bears and Glenwood Demons put on a show in the first half as the two teams traded shot after shot.

Rifle would get out to a 4-0 lead as junior forward Peyton Caldwell stepped up in a big way offensively, knocking down two tough shots in the paint to give the Bears their early lead.

But Glenwood would answer with a 6-0 run as junior forward Tatum Peterson went to work on the low post, scoring six straight points to give the Demons a 6-4 lead early in the first quarter.

In a sign of things to come though, the teams would trade buckets from there as Rifle junior guard Elly Walters would come up with a steal and a layup at one end before Glenwood junior forward Ellie Moser would knock down a midrange jumper at the other end to keep the Demons in front.

Walters would then counter with a driving layup in the paint before Rifle senior forward Carley Rice would hit two free throws to give the Bears a 10-8 lead midway through the quarter.

Tied at 12-all following a couple of buckets, Rifle junior guard Katy Manuppella would drill a corner three-pointer ā€” marking her only points of the game before being forced to leave with an injury ā€” to give the Bears a 15-12 lead after one quarter of play.

The fast-paced back-and-forth action would continue in the second quarter as Glenwood would score the first three points of the frame to tie the game at 15-all as senior guard Lauren Howell split a pair of free throws before junior forward Saylor Warren would get a tough driving floater from a difficult angle to fall.

Knotted up at 15-all, Walters would then knock down a midrange jumper, but Glenwood junior guard Maddie Bolitho would counter with a three-pointer to give the Demons an 18-17 lead.

The Bears would then respond with a quick 4-0 run as senior forward Samantha Hinkle would hit a tough layup in the paint before Caldwell would knock down a midrange jumper from the free throw line to put the Bears back in front, 21-18, late in the third quarter.

But not to be outdone, Bolitho would hit another three-pointer to tie the game at 21-all, locking the two teams in a knockdown, drag-out fight.

Following Bolitho's three-pointer, Walters would calmly hit two free throws and a tough scoop-shot layup in the paint to give the Bears a 25-21 lead before Peterson would answer with a layup just before the buzzer to send the two teams into the half with Rifle in front, 25-23.

Coming out for the second half, Rifle would stay hot offensively as Walters would hit two tough driving layups in the paint before Hinkle would add a nifty turnaround jumper to put the Bears in front 31-25 early in the third quarter.

Glenwood sophomore Ximena Gutierrez would then get in on the scoring action for the Demons, sinking a midrange jumper to pull to within 31-27, but the Bears would outscore Glenwood 5-1 the rest of the quarter thanks to a three-pointer from junior forward Jessie Pressler that rimmed in and out before dropping in off the glass and another impressive post move in the paint from Hinkle for a layup.

"We knew that we needed to keep it at a point-for-point game because we know Coach Wallner has her team disciplined and able to play in tight games," Glenwood Head Coach Rhonda Moser said. "I knew that if we were down more than six, they'd pull the ball out and spread the floor. And Elly does a great job up there; she was terrific tonight.

"Defensively, they started to double Tatum down low so we needed Ximena to step up as a scorer, but unfortunately she was off tonight. In the second half we just couldn't get shots to consistently fall as a team like we did in the first half."

Holding a 36-28 lead after three quarters of play, Rifle was able to slow the pace in the fourth quarter, allowing Hinkle to score four big points in the final eight minutes of the game to lead the Bears to the 47-31 win, clinching the 4A WSL regular season title for Rifle.

"Sam just kept battling for us tonight," Wallner said. "We told her to just keep battling and keep hanging with it and she'd get rewarded tonight. Elly kind of found her in transition a few times tonight and that got her going. And hey, from then on it's game on. Jessie had a big three for us as well to get us on a run, and Carley came in and did some amazing things for us tonight.

"Plus, without the twins [Katy and Karly Manuppella] tonight, we needed someone to really step up and I thought Peyton Caldwell was amazing tonight. To see her stroking it from the field was just unbelievable for us. Everyone was excited for her tonight."

The Bears have one more regular season game left against Montrose on Saturday in a non-league matchup. With the win, Rifle currently sits at 19-3, 11-1 4A WSL on the season.

For Rifle, Walters led the way with 20 points, while Hinkle and Caldwell added 10 and eight points, respectively.

For Glenwood, the Demons wrap up the regular season with an overall record of 11-12, 7-5 4A WSL, finishing tied for third in the league with Eagle Valley.

Peterson led the way with 13 points for the Demons, while Bolitho added six points.

Despite losing the final regular season game of the year, Glenwood still sits firmly in the state playoff picture, which is a massive improvement for the program under Moser in just her second year at the helm.

Last season the Demons won just four games. Now, they'll likely host a state playoff game in the first round of regionals.

"That's exciting; I'm super proud of the girls for that," Moser said. "That was a great goal that we set coming into the year, so it was great to achieve that this year."

GLENWOOD 44, RIFLE 29

Looking to match the title celebration that the Rifle girls had in the opening game of the night, the Glenwood boys came into the nightcap against Rifle hoping to clinch at least a share of the 4A Western Slope League regular season title.

Mission accomplished for the young Demons.

Thanks to some stellar defense and clutch free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter, Glenwood was able to pull away for a 44-29 win on the road at Rifle, locking up at least a share of the regular season title.

"This is a great feeling, and I'm just so happy for the boys," Glenwood Head Coach Cory Hitchcock said. "It just shows that all of their hard work and conditioning pays off. I can't ask for anything more from these boys; they show up at 5:45 every morning for workouts and open gyms. The dedication we get from these guys day after day is unreal.

"I know a lot of people didn't expect us to be where we're at now coming into the year, but everyone in our locker room did, so it's nice to be at the top right now with the other teams. It feels good to share that at least. I don't like to share very much, but I'll take sharing a league title for sure."

Unlike the girls game before them, the boys game was largely slow and honestly boring for the first half as the two teams combined for just 26 points as Glenwood held an 18-8 lead at the half thanks to a combined four three-pointers from junior guard AJ Crowley, junior guard Aaron Smith and sophomore guard Chano Gonzalez, as well as terrific execution on a last-second play coming out of a timeout by Crowley, finding a wide open Carlos Nolasco-Montes under the hoop for an easy layup to cap the first-half scoring for both teams.

Coming out of the half just 16 minutes away from clinching a share of the league title, Glenwood clamped down defensively, holding the Bears to just 21 second-half points in the win.

Action picked up in the third quarter as Crowley started the second half with a jumper before Rifle senior Jacob Boone answered with a tough layup in traffic to get the Bears going offensively.

Smith would then hit his third three-pointer of the game to give the Demons a 23-10 lead before Rifle junior Evan Gray would answer with a putback layup.

After some back and forth action with no scoring, Rifle sophomore forward Joel Lopez corralled an offensive rebound and raced into the lane for a big layup through contact to show signs of life for the Bears.

Unfortunately, Lopez's ensuing free throw would clang off the rim with the Bears down 23-14.

Right after Lopez's missed free throw, Crowley then extended the lead for the Demons, hitting his second three-pointer of the game to make it 26-14 Glenwood, but Rifle wouldn't go away as sophomore forward Carter Sturgeon and senior guard Blaine Vance would hit runners in the lane to make it 26-18.

A floater from Nolasco-Montes and a free throw from Smith would give the Demons a 29-18 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

In the fourth, Glenwood would march to the line 10 times total. The Demons would sink 14-of-19 free throws in the final quarter to seal the win, setting off a loud celebration in the visiting locker room with the Demons earning at least a share of the 4A WSL regular season title.

"To be able to do that at the free throw line tonight, it says that we're maturing as a team," Hitchcock said. "Earlier in the year we weren't able to seal games at the line and gave some games away, so it was great to see our guys step up at the line and knock down those shots."

For Glenwood, the Demons finish the regular season with a 13-10, 8-4 4A WSL record, placing them in a tie with Steamboat Springs for first place in the league standings.

In the win, Smith finished with 16 points to lead the Demons, while Crowley chipped in with 13 points. Nolasco-Montes added nine points in his final regular season game as a Demon.

For Rifle, the Bears fall to 9-13, 6-6 4A WSL on the season with one non-league game left on Saturday on the road at Montrose.

For the Bears, Boone led the way with 12 points, while Vance and Sturgeon added four points each.