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Free throws lift Card boys past Bears

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado – One team hit its free throws. The other didn’t.

Connecting on 6 of 6 from the charity stripe in the final 32.2 seconds, Grand Valley’s boys held on for a 53-45 basketball win at Rifle on Tuesday.

Matt Donello, Trent Reidle and Bubby Beecraft each hit two freebies apiece to lift the Cardinals down the stretch.



“To fight through something like that and hit our free throws is huge,” Grand Valley coach Jake Higuera said. “That’s one thing we talk about every single day and we work on every single day. We run them into the ground and shoot free throws, so we can come in and hit these big ones.”

Conversely, Rifle struggled at the line down the stretch, going 0 for 5 and twice missing free throws on potential three-point plays in the final 1:44.



“We have to do a much better job of that,” Bears coach Chris Lowther said. “We have to mentally put ourselves in a game situation when we’re practicing our free throws. We practice free throws every day. We compete with free throws every day. They hit them and we didn’t, and we can’t allow that.”

After a back-and-forth first half that ended in a 22-all tie, Grand Valley charged ahead with a 7-0 run to start the third quarter.

Rifle kept it close the rest of the way, pulling to within 44-43 on back-to-back buckets by Rian Creech and Austin Booth late in the fourth quarter

Creech’s shot fell with 1:44 remaining. Booth’s came seven seconds later. Both were fouled and both missed their free throws.

And the Cardinals made the Bears pay.

With 42 seconds remaining, Trevor Smith drained a 3-pointer after teammate Omar Melendrez drove the lane and found Smith wide open in the corner.

“Trevor hit an absolutely huge shot,” Higuera said.

Donello followed with a pair of free throws with 32.2 seconds left. Then Reidle hit a pair from the line with 18.5 seconds remaining.

Taylor Boone’s short turnaround jumper brought Rifle to within 51-45 with 7 seconds left and then Beecraft iced the game by hitting his two freebies with 2.9 seconds to go.

Dylan Walters and Smith led the Cardinals with 12 points apiece. Donello added 10 points, Reidle eight and Beecraft seven. Walters chipped in with eight rebounds.

Taylor Boone and Rian Creech led the Bears with 14 points apiece. Boone pulled down 11 boards and Creech had eight rebounds.

Tuesday’s game was the season opener for both teams.

Behind a swarming defense that produced countless steals, Rifle’s girls ran their way to a 57-21 win over Grand Valley on Tuesday.

Cortney Cordova scored 16 points to lead the Bears, who took a 15-0 lead at the outset and never relented.

Jasmine Figueira chipped in with 11 points. Makalya Wilkins and Haydn Holgate added 10 for Rifle.

“I liked the way we ran the ball and played defense with our half-court trap,” Figueira, a sophomore, said.

Figueira’s stat line was packed. She finished with seven steals, five rebounds and four assists.

Cordova finished with five steals. Wilkins and Rachael Keithley each had three steals.

“You know, our effort was great,” Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said. “You always have those first-game jitters. We had to play through that. Once we started getting going, we started getting back into it and getting steals. That worked good for us tonight.”

Eryn Paskett led Grand Valley (0-4) with seven points. Shawnee Young added six.

“You know, defensively, Rifle applies a lot of pressure,” said Cardinals coach Mike Johnson, whose team lost three games at the past weekend’s Meeker Shootout. “They’re very aggressive in the passing lanes and they’re long. The other thing is they’re so effective with pressure and they all can handle the ball really well and can finish.”

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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