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Pirates sail past Bears, win 3A WSL district title

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post IndependentRifle's Ashley Rickstrew (15) and Olathe's Aleksus Wilson (13) battle for a loose ball during Saturday's 3A Western Slope League district tournament girls title game.
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PALISADE, Colorado – If there is one thing to take away from the last three years of 3A Western Slope League girls basketball, it’s that the path to the district title runs through Olathe.

With Saturday’s 47-30 win over Rifle in the 3A WSL district championship game at Palisade High School, the Pirates captured their second title in three years.

“It’s really nice,” said Olathe senior Tawni Middleton, whose team was denied a district crown by Rifle last February. “To get it back again is just a great feeling.”



Said Pirates coach Paul Althaus: “To be in the championship game three years in a row is special.”

Kylie Tait’s 20 points led Olathe, which improved to 20-2 on the season. Middleton added 18 as the 1-2 senior punch terrorized the Bears.



“Those two kids, they just love this game and have a real desire to be the best,” Althaus said. “We’re fortunate we have them both. I’d hate to play against them.”

Rifle kept things tight for much of the afternoon. The Bears trailed 9-7 after a quarter and 21-16 at halftime.

But the Pirates found another gear in the second half, opening the third quarter on a 6-0 run.

Olathe opened the fourth quarter with six straight points as well, building a 37-21 lead with 6 minutes, 6 seconds remaining.

“You know, we just didn’t have much energy, much emotion,” Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said. “I can only do so much. It’s got to come from them. They all want it. It’s just a matter of putting it all together at one time.”

Chante Church’s nine points paced the Bears, who dipped to 18-4. Joey Kuheim and Ashley Rickstrew finished with seven points apiece.

Both teams will learn their state playoff fate when Class 3A’s 32-team brackets are released by the Colorado High School Activities Association this afternoon.

By virtue of its district title, Olathe will host a sub-regional next weekend. Rifle still has a shot at hosting, but it depends on how the seeding shakes out.

“Our record’s good,” Heald said. “We were still second in our district. We can still go a long ways. I don’t know if it’ll be home or away, but we still have a chance to do something. We’re not done.”

Haley Johnson led Grand Valley’s girls with 19 points as they coasted to a 61-40 victory over Gunnison in Saturday’s third-place game.

Rocio Roman added nine points for the state playoff-bound Cardinals, who improved to 12-10.

Grand Valley built a 17-8 lead after a quarter and never looked back in topping the Cowboys, who fell to 7-15.

Roaring Fork’s girls punched their playoff ticket with a 45-34 win over Hotchkiss in Saturday’s fifth-place game.

Megan Gianinetti led a balanced offensive effort with 13 points. Kaleigh Wisroth scored 10 points and Hattie Gianinetti nine.

The Rams, who surrendered just one point in the first quarter, improved to 14-8 overall. They won just two games last season.

Erin Jones led Hotchkiss (8-13) with 10 points.

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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