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Rifle, Steamboat split hoops doubleheader at Pepsi Center

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Once they adjusted to the unfamiliar surroundings, there was no stopping Rifle’s girls basketball team.

Outscoring Steamboat Springs 14-3 in the fourth quarter, the Bears inched closer to an outright 4A Western Slope League title with a 47-30 win over the Sailors at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Thursday.

Rifle and Steamboat were playing at the big arena as part of the Denver Nuggets’ Prep Pro Series.



It was quite the experience for the Bears, who took a bit to settle in on the long NBA court.

“When we got in there at first, they were all, ‘This court is nothing,'” Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said by phone shortly after the game. “After the first timeout, they were, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so long!’ It was fun. They had a great time with it. It was a good experience.”



Cortney Cordova led the Bears, who improved to 15-4 and to 11-0 in the 4A WSL, with 14 points. Ciara Euler scored 12 points and Makayla Wilkins 10.

Rifle, which completed a season sweep of the Sailors, led by single digits much of the night before blowing the game wide open in the fourth.

Steamboat Springs dropped to 13-6 overall and to 8-3 in the 4A WSL. The Sailors and Moffat County both have three league losses.

One more win for the Bears or a Moffat County loss means they’ll have the league title all to themselves. They play Moffat in Craig on Saturday. Moffat plays at Glenwood Springs tonight.

“Hopefully we can take that one on Saturday and secure that for us,” Heald said. “Going down to Moffat is always difficult.”

Thursday’s nightcap didn’t go as well for Rifle, whose boys never did fully adjust to the Pepsi Center environment in a 52-40 loss to Steamboat.

Rian Creech led the Bears, now 9-10 overall and 5-6 in the 4A WSL, with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Tyler Rust finished with 12 points.

Rifle shot at just a 13-for-52 clip from the floor in the low-scoring affair.

Steamboat pulled away late after taking a 23-20 lead into halftime and going ahead 38-32 after three quarters.

Randall Nelson led the Sailors, now 12-7 overall and 9-2 in league, with 15 points. Charles Wood had 14.

The Bears, in need of wins to make a late-season playoff push, hope to rebound at Moffat County on Saturday.

“We’re really in need of playing better and trying to get a win up there,” Rifle coach Chris Lowther said. “We have to make sure we’re just playing hard through the end of the year. That’s what we’re really working with the kids on.”

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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