Everyone in the Jack Smith Gymnasium held their breath on Friday night as Rifle senior guard Garrett Robinson arched what could have been the game-winning 3-pointer toward his team’s basket with just 9 seconds showing on the clock.
When the ball bounced high off the rim and into the waiting arms of Glenwood’s Mitchell Burt, the Demons had pulled off the big rivalry win, holding on for a nail-biting 49-45 road victory in 4A Western Slope League action.
Burt sank two free throws to ice the win after being fouled in a game that was well worth the price of admission, and then some.
“There were times when we felt like we had them, but they (Rifle) always fought their way back,” Glenwood head coach Fred Heisel said.
It was the Patrick Young and John Iuele show for the Demons early on, as the two senior guards staked Glenwood to an early lead. Iuele’s baseline fade away jumper gave Glenwood a 9-2 advantage as the Demons looked to be rolling along. Rifle’s Carter Pressler brought the Bears back into the game with a 3-pointer, trimming Glenwood’s lead to 11-8 at the end of the first period.
Senior post AJ Adams, who helped control the rebounding department all night long for Glenwood, scored a couple of baskets in the paint, and fellow Demon senior Adam Schrader got a bucket in close to give Glenwood a 19-16 lead.
Robinson hit a 3-pointer for Rifle and senior Trey Lujan got a couple of free throws to drop, keeping the Bears right in Glenwood’s rearview mirror at 22-20 at the halfway point of the contest.
The Demons started the second half in a stifling full court press that gave the Bears — who basically run a five-guard lineup — fits. Young scored on a drive to the basket that gave Glenwood its biggest lead of the game at 33-25 midway through the third period, but Lujan and Kade Bishop each hit 3-pointers for the Bears to keep the home team close.
To start the final period, Lujan hit two free throws and then swished the net with a floater in the lane to tie the tense affair at 38-all.
Iuele, as he often does in pressure situations, came to the rescue for the Demons with a 3-pointer and a score off a baseline drive to give Glenwood some breathing room. Lujan answered with a 3-pointer to tie the game once again. Adams got a critical rebound for Glenwood and scored on a put back as the game would then come down to the ending dramatics that would fall Glenwood’s way.
In a key statistic for the game, Glenwood out rebounded Rifle by a 30-11 count.
Iuele led Glenwood with 18 points for the game, with Young and Burt tallying 9 and 8 points, respectively. Lujan had a game-high 25 points for Rifle with Alonso Ruiz chipping in with 10 points.
Glenwood (9-3, 2-0 WSL) will face Grand Junction Central on the road Saturday afternoon.
Glenwood 52, Rifle 17
The Glenwood Springs girls ventured into Rifle’s gymnasium on Friday night and ran their record to 9-3 overall and a perfect 2-0 in 4A Western Slope League play with a convincing 52-17 win over the home-standing Bears.
Nursing a slim 11-6 lead after one quarter of play, the Demons used a 15-4 scoring outburst in the decisive second frame to put Rifle into a submission hold that they were never able to break out of.
Glenwood junior guard Maddie Moser dropped in a couple of 3-point tosses to give the Demons some early momentum as they battled Rifle’s deliberate pace of play. Sophomore guard Jamie Caron notched a basket and two free throws to get Rifle into the first quarter break trailing by just 5 points.
The flood gates opened from that point on for the Demons after Rifle’s Mackenzie Elizardo and Glenwood senior post Michelle Marshall traded baskets in the paint.
The Demon onslaught started when sophomore left-hander Kenzie Winder drilled a long 3-pointer and senior guard Natalya Taylor scored on a hard drive to the bucket and hit a free throw to complete a conventional 3-point play. It was then senior Kate Shanahan’s turn to hit a soft shot off the glass for a Glenwood score. Winder added another basket to her game resume as the Bears were officially rocking back on their heels facing a 26-10 deficit at intermission.
“We have talked a lot as a team about coming out flat to begin games, and we started in similar fashion tonight,” Glenwood head coach Rhonda Moser said. “Once the kids got into the rhythm of the game, though, they really started playing.”
Glenwood widened the big lead to 35-13 midway through the third period. Senior post Qwynn Massie scored on a back door cut and a shot in the lane off a miss by Taylor. Rifle senior Delaney Phillips got a basket and free toss to end the Bears’ dry spell, but Moser would answer with her third triple of the night, and Taylor scored on two hard drives down the lane. In the blink of an eye, it was game, set and match.
“Our plan was to make Glenwood play slow. We did a good job of that early on, but Glenwood is a very athletic team and hard to keep in check,” second year Rifle coach Eric Caro said.
Moser led Glenwood in scoring with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Taylor chipped in with 11 points, and Massie had 8 points and 6 rebounds. Caron led Rifle with 5 points.
Glenwood heads to Grand Junction to play the Central Warriors on Saturday.
Other Friday game results
Girls — Grand Valley 58, Olathe 41; Delta 51, Roaring Fork 39
Boys — Grand Valley 59, Olathe 48; Delta 65, Roaring Fork 52