Rifle rolls past Basalt at Brenda Patch, 67-40 | PostIndependent.com

Rifle rolls past Basalt at Brenda Patch, 67-40

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post IndependentRifle junior Cortney Cordova drives in for a layup as Basalt junior Annie Wells defends during Friday's Brenda Patch Tournament game in Carbondale.

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Once Rifle began operating within its comfort zone, everything fell into place.

With a pesky press setting the table for their transition offense, the Bears rolled to a 67-40 girls basketball win over Basalt in its Brenda Patch Tournament opener on Friday.

The Longhorns hung tight for a quarter at Roaring Fork High School – trailing 19-15 after one – before Rifle’s press started yielding steals and layups en masse.

“Once we got into our defense, we were starting to get good shots,” Bears coach Stephanie Heald said. “That helped us out. Once we picked it up, they started remembering what to do.”

Rifle kicked off the second quarter with a 9-2 run, adding a 7-0 spurt later in the stanza to go up 35-23 at the break.

With its transition game continuing to click, the Bears blew the game wide open in the third quarter. Layups dropped in droves as Rifle opened the frame with an 8-0 run.

And the Bears didn’t let up from there, taking a 52-29 lead into the fourth quarter by outscoring the Longhorns 17-6.

Ciara Euler finished with a game-high 25 points to pace Rifle, now 1-1. Cortney Cordova added 13 points, Tresa Berner 10 and Makayla Wilkins nine.

Euler, Cordova and Wilkins were also catalysts on defense.

“Our three up top – Cortney, Makayla and Ciara – always get into it,” Heald said. “They have such quick hands and get in there for layups.”

Mackenzie Buck led Basalt (0-1) with 14 points. Annie Wells chipped in with 10 for the Longhorns, who didn’t do themselves any favors at the foul line, hitting 8 of 21 free throws as a team.

First-game jitters certainly contributed to the squad’s struggles.

“Yeah, a little bit more than we hoped for,” Basalt coach Dane LeBlanc said. “We did get a lot of hustle off the bench. We really got a lot of support tonight.”

LeBlanc and the Longhorns will rise early this morning to battle Steamboat Springs. Tipoff is slated for 8:30 a.m. in the school’s auxiliary gym.

Rifle plays Roaring Fork at 1 p.m. in its second game of the round-robin tournament.

With 5 minutes, 13 seconds to go in regulation and in possession of a 50-43 lead, Basalt’s boys basketball team broke a timeout huddle with a chant. “Finish!” the Longhorns yelled in unison.

It took them an extra period, but finish is what the Longhorns did, escaping their Brenda Patch Tournament opener with a 61-59 win over Rifle on Friday.

After watching that seven-point lead dissipate in the game’s waning moments, Basalt needed a wild twist of fate to extend the game an extra fame.

With 3.9 seconds left and the game knotted at 56-all, Rifle’s Ryan Davis missed a pair of free throws. Tyler Rust pulled down the offensive rebound on the second shot and narrowly missed a potential game-winner with time expiring.

With new life in overtime, the Longhorns delivered.

Lukas Newbury and Omar Lopez opened with back-to-back buckets – Lopez’s off a midcourt steal – and Basalt went up 60-56.

Rust countered with a pair of free throws to make it 60-58 before Newbury hit a freebie to pad the Longhorns’ lead.

Rifle had a chance to win it at the end, as Rust launched a last-second 3-pointer that hit off the iron.

Lopez finished with a game-high 19 points for the Longhorns in what was the season opener for both teams. Newbury chipped in with 13 points.

A grateful Lopez knew he and his teammates dodged a bullet.

“Well, I feel like we had the game and let it go. … I think we can be better,” Lopez said. “We just have to keep working on our defense and get some offense in and we’ll be good.”

Rifle coach Chris Lowther hopes his Bears take a thing or two from the defeat.

“They can learn from this,” he said. “We just need to keep getting themselves in these kinds of situations so they can get used to it.”

Rust led Rifle with 17 points. Dustin Ross and Tyrel Lenard chipped in with 13 points apiece.

Rifle returns to the court this afternoon against tourney host Roaring Fork. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m.

Basalt plays Steamboat Springs this morning at 8:30 a.m. in the main gym at Roaring Fork.


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