Rifle girls look forward to 2nd-round challenge in state basketball tourney today
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Rifle High School’s girls basketball team has taken a lot of giant leaps forward since the season began. Tuesday night’s 47-38 victory at Sierra in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament was no exception.
Chante Church scored a game-high 20 points to go with eight rebounds for the Bears (11-11 overall), who used an up-tempo attack in the second half to break away from Sierra after going into halftime tied at 19-all. Brittany Neuroth added six points and 11 rebounds for Rifle in the victory.
With the victory, the Bears have gained a big opportunity. Their second-round draw in the tournament is Broomfield (23-0) the top overall seed in the 48-team bracket, which was whittled down to 32 after Tuesday’s first-round games.
“It’ll be fun to see what a program like that looks like,” first-year Rifle coach Kristy Wallner said. “My thought is that you’ve got to play the best to be the best. It’ll be good for our program to see a team like that.”
Broomfield has been one of the top girls basketball programs in Colorado for close to a decade. Their last loss came on March 14 of last year, when they fell to Pueblo South, 53-50, in the 4A semifinals at the Coors Event Center in Boulder.
This year, the Eagles haven’t come close to losing. The closest an opponent has come to beating them was on Jan. 4, when Class 5A Thunder Ridge lost a non-league game to the Eagles, 65-47. Three of their starters are averaging double figures in scoring, with 5-foot-10 junior Callie Kaiser (14.3 points per game) setting the pace.
Still, that doesn’t deter Rifle, which is more than looking forward to the challenge.
“We don’t have a particular game plan for them yet,” Church said following Tuesday’s game against Sierra. “But I think that if we run our offense well and make stops on defense, we should have some success.”
Rifle isn’t unfamiliar with ranked opponents. Sierra was a higher seed than the Bears. Glenwood Springs (22-1 overall), which ran away with the 4A Western Slope League title this year, didn’t close out the Bears until the final minutes of a 45-37 victory on Feb. 14.
Plus, Rifle has some scorers, also. Church comes into Friday’s game averaging 20 points and six rebounds per game, and Carsyn Copeland averages 7.2 points and 7.3 rebounds. The Bears have shown the ability to play defense, too — they’re 8-1 this season when they hold an opponent to under 40 points.
A game time had not been announced as of Tuesday night.
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