Bears primed for big year on hardwood |

Bears primed for big year on hardwood

With a large amount of talent returning to Rifle High School, the boys and girls basketball teams should be primed for big years in the 4A Western Slope League in 2015-16.

For the Bears boys basketball team, with senior guards Avery Lujan and Luis Carreon, along with skilled two-way junior forward Jacob Boone, the talent is available and maturing quickly for fourth year head coach, Roger Walters.

“We had a really good summer of work,” Walters said in regards to this year’s version of the Bears. “We played quite a few games that allowed the kids to put in a lot of time and effort into getting better.”

Thanks to plenty of size, speed and shooting, the Bears will be a tough matchup for everyone they play, especially on defense where Walters’ physical zone defense will give traditional offenses fits.

The biggest strength for the Bears will be the defense, but don’t count out an offense that can turn stops into points faster than most teams in the region thanks to a balance of outside shooting, size inside and smart guard play from Lujan and Carreon, as well as reserve guard Blaine Vance.

While the talk in Rifle might be about the Bears’ boys team under Walters, the girls basketball team under Kristy Wallner will likely compete for a league title thanks to sophomore guards Elly Walters and Jessie Pressler, as well as junior forward Samantha Hinkle, providing the Bears with a deadly inside-outside combination.

In fact, this past summer Hinkle, Pressler and Walters played AAU basketball, which should help them reach another level this year playing in the Western Slope League.

Rifle girls varsity:

Last year: 13-11, 8-6 Western Slope League

Head coach: Kristy Wallner, fourth year

Key returners: Elly Walters, So., G, Samantha Hinkle, Jr., F, Jessie Pressler, So., G

Players to watch: Kenia Chavez, Jr., G, Mackenzie Ventrullo, Jr., F, Katy Manuppella, So., G, Karly Manuppella, So., F

Outlook: Led by Walters, Hinkle and Pressler, there’s no telling how much damage the Bears can do in the Western Slope League. Walters and Pressler can fill it up from the outside while Hinkle can get key baskets inside in big spots.

The Bears are a dangerous team due to their big three, but outside of those three the high hopes of 2015-16 relies on what Wallner and her staff can get out of the reserves.

At the Brenda Patch Tournament this past weekend, the Bears rolled to two wins over Roaring Fork and Aspen by a combined score of 99-26.

Walters, Hinkle and Pressler call came up big in the tournament, leading to the two big wins.

Rifle boys varsity:

Last year: 12-9, 9-5 4A Western Slope League

Head coach: Roger Walters, fourth year

Key returners: Avery Lujan, Sr., G, Luis Carreon, Sr., G, Jacob Boone, Jr., F, Morgan Robinson, Sr., F

Players to watch: Max Doose, Sr., F, Blake Swasey, So., C, Blaine Vance, Jr., G, Ed Ruiz, Sr., G

Outlook: With a deep roster under Roger Walters, the Bears are primed for a big season as senior guards Avery Lujan and Luis Carreon, along with senior forwards Morgan Robinson and Max Doose return for one final year to make a push for a league title.

Jacob Boone appears primed for a big year for Rifle as Walters has called him their very best one-on-one defender on defense while also being able to get in transition to hurt opposing defenses that have trouble with his size.

For Rifle to reach their goals this season, Boone has to come up big.

He did just that at the Brenda Patch Tournament this past weekend, dropping 16 points against Aspen and 14 points against Roaring Fork in two big wins for the Bears.

Along with Boone, Lujan and Carreon came up big for the Bears, putting the rest of the league on notice as to how dangerous Rifle can be in 2015-16.

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