Bears slip past host Titans
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY, Colorado – Jake Statler joked that all the noise caused his eardrums to rumble a little bit.
Playing in front of a raucous crowd for Friday’s 3A Western Slope League game between Statler’s Rifle Bears and host Coal Ridge, such a thing was certainly plausible.
Somehow, Statler and company survived a frenetic second half in which the Titans nearly erased a 24-point halftime deficit. With a crowd that screamed wildly with the contest’s every twist and turn serving as a decibel-heavy backdrop, the Bears did enough down the stretch to escape Peach Valley with a 70-64 win.
And over their Garfield School District Re-2 mates, no less.
“I’ve never really had my eardrums rumble a little bit when I was on a basketball court,” said Statler, who poured in a game-high 20 points. “It was a lot of fun.”
Statler scored 13 of those points in the fourth quarter, drilling a pair of big corner 3-pointers, driving the baseline for a pair and hitting at a 5-of-6 clip from the foul line.
Rifle, which went into the locker room at halftime with a 38-14 lead, wound up needing every single one of those points.
Fueled in part by its bothersome press, Coal Ridge unleashed a furious second-half rally. It won the third quarter by a 24-7 count and outscored the Bears, 26-25, in the fourth.
When McCade Cox dropped in a triple with 2 minutes, 32 seconds left in the game, the Titans pulled to within a point at 60-59.
That’s as close as they would get, as Rifle converted five of six free throws in the final 1:31 to ice it.
“Their shots just started to fall,” Statler said. “When you shoot like they do, when they start hitting, they can be the best team in the league.”
Triston Quigley, who erupted for 13 points in the first half, finished with 16 for the Bears (4-4 overall, 3-0 in the 3A WSL). Tanner Rust ended his night with nine points and Trenton Brown and Tanner Quick scored seven apiece. Quick led Rifle with 12 rebounds and Jacob Withee dropped in six points.
Cody Walls, one of three Coal Ridge starters to foul out in the fourth quarter, matched McCade Cox with a team-high 14 points. Darik Brown finished with 12 points and Alec Herrera and Tyler Guettler chipped in with nine apiece. Guettler ripped down 11 boards.
Both teams were proficient from beyond the arc. Rifle hit 10 3-pointers. The Titans sunk nine.
The hard-luck losses are piling up for Coal Ridge, which dipped to 1-7 overall and to 0-2 in league. The Titans have lost their last three games by six points or less.
“I wish we could find some divine intervention like [Tim] Tebow,” joked Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey, a diehard fan of Tebow’s Denver Broncos. “We played just like him. We were awful until the fourth quarter.”
Still, the coach likes the heart his squad displayed on Friday.
“Come crunch time, the fourth quarter, the playoffs, whatever, these guys have a tendency to come play,” Harvey said. “We put ourselves in a tight spot. To come back showed a lot of heart.”
On deck for the Titans is a home date with Roaring Fork today at 4 p.m.
Rifle plays at Aspen today. Tipoff is 4 p.m.
Like its boys team, Coal Ridge’s girls squad showed more than a little fight on Friday.
Also like the boys, that fight didn’t result in a win.
Behind 14 points from Chante Church, 13 from Joey Kuheim and 10 from Ashley Rickstrew, Rifle’s girls held on for a 50-40 win over the Titans.
The Bears improved to 7-1 overall and to 3-0 in the 3A WSL.
“It was a good night,” Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said. “They had a really good defense. They had a few runs on us, so it was good for us to just come out and regain our composure tonight, and keep it going.”
The Bears opened up a 19-7 lead in the second quarter with a 15-0 run that began late in the first. They pushed that advantage to 24-9 before Coal Ridge came storming back to cut it to 26-20 at halftime.
Rifle’s lead didn’t slip below six points in the second half.
Cassie Blackard led the Titans (4-4, 1-1) with 12 points. Amanda Wenzel scored seven and Alicia Hampton finished with six.
Both teams play today at 2:30 p.m., with Rifle heading to Aspen and Coal Ridge hosting Roaring Fork.
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