Bears hit the wall, fall to Eaton |

Bears hit the wall, fall to Eaton

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post Independent

FORT COLLINS, Colorado – Coach Stephanie Heald and the Rifle Bears knew Eaton’s pressure defense has given teams fits. On Thursday, Heald’s squad found out just how pesky that defense is in person.

Forcing 19 turnovers and converting countless easy buckets, the Reds derailed Rifle’s state title bid with a 50-34 win over the Bears in Thursday’s quarterfinal round of the 3A girls basketball tournament at Moby Arena in Fort Collins.

“They just had great pressure defense the whole entire time,” Heald said. “They had good back-door cuts, good shots. Their shots were falling. We weren’t taking enough shots for our shots to fall.”

Those turnovers and poor shooting plagued Rifle all night.

Not even layups were dropping for the Bears, who fell behind 16-7 after a quarter and 25-11 at halftime.

The Reds (22-3) didn’t relent down the stretch.

“We made sure we stayed loose,” Eaton coach Todd Hernandez said. “We wanted to make sure they knew it’s just another basketball game.”

Beth Cheney led Eaton with 14 points. Jordan Needens chipped in with 10, Kayla Cheney nine and Karli Jelden seven.

Beth Cheney’s eight rebounds led the Reds in that department. Eaton out-boarded the Bears, 38-28.

“We knew they loved to crash the boards,” Heald said. “We didn’t get the box-outs we should have.”

Makayla Wilkins and Chante Church scored eight points apiece to pace 24-1 Rifle, which lost for the first time all season.

Next up for the Bears, seeded second in the 32-team 3A bracket, is a consolation semifinal date with No. 6 Estes Park (18-7) at 1:15 p.m. today.

“These girls hate to lose,” Heald said. “I have all the confidence they’ll come back and win two more.”

Said Wilkins: “I think we’ll be ready to bounce back.”

Seventh-seeded Eaton will face undefeated Pagosa Springs (24-0) in tonight’s 8:30 p.m. semifinal.

No. 3 Pagosa eked out a 35-34 win over Estes Park on Thursday to advance.

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