Glenwood edges scrappy Rifle
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
RIFLE, Colorado – Five points separated them last time. The final margin of victory this time around: eight points.
The Glenwood Springs-Rifle boys basketball rivalry is always good for close games and thrilling finishes. Tuesday was no different.
Hitting their free throws down the stretch, the Demons notched their second narrow victory over the neighboring Bears this season. Kevin Floor hit four freebies in the final 23 seconds to help Glenwood to a 66-58 win in Rifle.
“They match up pretty well with us,” said Demons coach Greg Hire, whose team topped Rifle 62-57 back on Jan. 26. “Our boys always want to beat Rifle and Rifle’s boys always want to beat us. Both teams bring everything they have to the game. It makes for a fun, exciting, challenging game.”
Fun is certainly what the atmosphere, intensified by a rowdy crowd, provided.
“It’s so much fun, so exciting,” Glenwood sophomore Mike McGraw said. “Everyone gets more pumped.”
Glenwood led most of Tuesday’s game, but not by much.
The Demons took a 24-19 lead after a quarter, nursed a 31-27 advantage at halftime and were ahead 46-36 at the end of three.
A 7-0 Rifle run early in the fourth tightened the gap, making for a frenetic finish.
Glenwood hit all six of its free throws in the final 40.4 seconds to close out the win, which upped its record to 17-5 overall and to 13-0 in the 4A Western Slope League.
Flohr led Glenwood with 19 points. Danny Weller had 14 points and several key rebounds down the stretch. Kelbey Artaz scored 12 points.
Tyler Rust led Rifle, 9-12 overall and 5-8 in the 4A WSL, with 19 points. Dustin Ross chipped in with twelve.
“I’m real proud of our effort,” Bears coach Chris Lowther said. “I can’t fault our effort. I thought our kids did a great job of mentally staying in the game.”
Rifle finishes up its regular season Thursday at Palisade. Glenwood is home against Delta on Friday.
Rifle junior Makayla Wilkins wore a big grin as she walked off the court. She had just beaten the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
Plenty of Bears had reason to smile on Tuesday, as it was the kind of night where just about everything went right for them.
Getting 23 points from Cortney Cordova, 15 from Ciara Euler and 14 from Wilkins, Rifle’s girls rolled to a 69-55 win over rival Glenwood in front of a raucous home crowd.
The Bears, who’ve won 14 straight games and have already clinched the 4A WSL title, moved a step closer to a perfect league season. They’re now 17-4 overall and 13-0 in the 4A WSL.
Defense fueled Tuesday’s effort. Cordova finished with five steals. Wilkins and Euler each had four.
“If we keep playing defense like that, we’ll be just fine,” Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said. “Offensively, we still need to work on some things, like moving the ball around.”
Forcing countless turnovers in the first quarter, the Bears built an 11-0 gate out of the shoot. The lead swelled to 24-4 by the end of the first quarter.
Cordova credited the rowdy home crowd with firing up her squad.
“They just pump us up,” the junior guard said. “They get us going by showing their support for us.”
Cordova and her teammates didn’t let up on the gas until the closing quarter, during which Glenwood made the final count respectable by outscoring Rifle 24-7. The Bears’ lead grew to as big as 34 points in the third quarter.
Demons coach Bryan Derby could only shake his head and hope for a rebound effort when his team closes out the regular season at home against Delta on Friday.
“Our game plan would have worked if we had executed it in the first quarter,” Derby said. “We had a lapse. … In the first five minutes, we had 10 turnovers. The first four minutes didn’t help us a whole heck of a lot.”
Kenzie Kuhn’s 19 points led Glenwood, which dropped to 11-10 overall and to 7-6 in league. A strong finish to the regular season would boost the Demons’ argument for a playoff spot.
Being a bubble team isn’t familiar to Derby, whose teams have won at least 20 games in each of the last three seasons.
“We’re not used to this,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
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