Rifle girls outlast Cards, face Olathe today
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PALISADE, Colorado – Chante Church is happy to get another crack at Olathe.
The Rifle sophomore broke her wrist early in a 36-33 loss to the visiting Pirates back on Jan. 19.
“It was tough to sit out,” said Church, who suffered the injury crashing into the baseline wall as she attempted to save a loose ball.
With a 48-45 win over Grand Valley in Friday’s 3A Western Slope League district tournament semifinals, Church and her Rifle girls basketball teammates will get a long-awaited rematch in today’s district championship game.
Church scored 19 points to pace the Bears against the Cardinals, who lingered within striking distance the entire night and held a 43-40 lead with 6 minutes, 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
A pair of corner 3-pointers from Rocio Roman flanked a steal and layup by Kristen Schubert to account for an 8-0 run that vaulted Grand Valley into that late lead.
But Rifle settled down in the waning moments, improving to 18-3 by closing the game on an 8-2 run.
“We slowed down our offense and we stopped their 3s,” said Church, who returned to basketball last weekend after spending some time with her hand in a cast.
A basket by Jasmine Figueira and 3-pointer by Church sandwiched a free throw by the Cardinals’ Tarianna Lawrence to kick off the Bears’ late run. Ashley Rickstrew pushed Rifle’s lead to 47-44 with a transition basket at the 3:45 mark.
A Schubert free throw followed, as did a late freebie from Figueira, to round out the final count.
Rifle owned an 11-7 lead after a quarter and held a 27-22 advantage at halftime. Grand Valley charged back to tie it at 35 after three quarters.
“Our big thing was we had to get into our game,” Bears coach Stephanie Heald said. “They did a lot of things to rush the tempo in the first half, to beat us down the court. We really had to slow it down.”
Ashley Rickstrew chipped in 12 points, Joey Kuheim 10 and Figueira seven for Rifle.
Today’s Rifle-Olathe district title game is slated for 4 p.m. at Palisade High School, which was the site of Friday’s action.
Ashlynn Speakman and Haley Johnson scored 12 points apiece to pace the Cardinals, who dropped to 11-10 and will face Gunnison in today’s 12:30 p.m. third-place game. Schubert and Roman scored eight points apiece.
“The kids played well,” Grand Valley coach Mike Johnson said. “We battled. I thought we were able to make some adjustments, and our effort was fantastic. If a couple shots fall this way or that way or a couple calls go this way or that way, maybe we get out of here with a win.”
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