Rifle boys, girls beat Hotchkiss
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
RIFLE, Colorado – Coach Chris Lowther sensed the lethargy early on. Even before Saturday’s game between Lowther’s Rifle boys basketball team and Hotchkiss ever tipped off, he was imploring his players to liven up.
It took a while, but the Bears eventually did perk up, summoning enough energy to notch a 46-44 win over the visiting Bulldogs.
“I think it was just the Saturday hangover,” said Rifle senior Jacob Withee, who led all scorers with 16 points. “You just come out and you’re kind of lazy. We picked it up at halftime. We got in each other’s ear and told each other to pick it up, and we did.”
Withee had a couple of big baskets underneath to give the Bears a 44-40 lead with 3 minutes, 1 second left. He also sunk a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close out the third quarter that breathed some life into the home crowd – and the Rifle bench.
“Jacob Withee is really stepping up a lot as our leader,” Lowther said. “I liked his intensity. He’s such a sports nut, and I think he really understands the psychology of sports and what it means to be a leader without taking away any confidence from the other players.”
The Bears (3-3 overall, 2-0 in the 3A Western Slope League) needed intensity to prevail in a physical affair.
Both teams spent a good chunk of the afternoon at the foul line. Hotchkiss hit at a 16-of-33 clip from the stripe. Rifle went 13-for-24 on freebies.
“When you miss that many free throws in a two-point game, you don’t deserve to win,” said Bulldogs coach Kyle Crowder, whose team dipped to 2-4 overall and to 0-2 in league play.
Tell Hawk and Taylor Schreiner led Hotchkiss with 11 points apiece.
Jake Statler and Tanner Quick both scored seven points for the Bears, who play at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Glenwood Springs. Tanner Rust finished with six points.
When the Bears play together, there’s no slowing them down.
Playing its trademark, up-tempo brand of ball, Rifle’s girls cruised to a 56-23 win over Hotchkiss on Saturday.
“I felt like we played as a team,” senior Ashley Rickstrew said. “We saw the court. We knew where each other were.
“We’re young, but we’re getting there.”
The Bears improved to 5-1 overall and to 2-0 in the 3A WSL. Since a season-opening loss to Grand Valley, Rifle is on a roll.
“We’re young,” coach Stephanie Heald said. “We only have two seniors getting good playing time right now. Everyone else is much younger, so everyone is really new to everything, so it’s been a good season so far.”
Though light on varsity experience, the Bears boast a bevy of capable scorers.
Chante Church led all scorers with 17 points on Saturday. Joey Kuheim added nine points for Rifle. Rickstrew, Jasmine Figueira and Kailee Cordova chipped in with eight points apiece.
Erin Jones led Hotchkiss (2-4, 0-2) with seven points.
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