Rifle seniors emphasize scoreboard, not scoring
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
There is a pair of Rifle High School seniors who are more than capable of lighting up the basketball scoreboard, yet more than willing to let someone else do it.
Both Chante Church and Tanner Quick have been the predominant scoring threats for their respective basketball teams at Rifle over the course of their prep careers. They’re the go-to guy — and gal — who have been looked upon to score the basket when their respective teams really need it.
That’s shown this season. Quick blitzed Palisade for 28 in the Rifle boys’ 62-53 win over Palisade on Jan. 14, and he’s reached double figures in scoring in all but two of Rifle’s games this season. Church has reached the 20-point plateau more than once, with her 24-point outing against Palisade, also on Jan. 14, serving as a season high.
Neither of them, however, have consistently put up big numbers in every game they’ve played. That’s because both of them are more concerned about the point totals of their teams rather than their overall statistics.
“I really don’t care,” Quick responded when he was asked if he was aware of how many points per game he was scoring. “I could score 30 or I could score zero. As long as we get the W, I could care less how much I score.”
Church also refuses to take a holier-than-thou stance when it comes to her points-per-game average.
“It’s not just about me,” she said. “We weren’t in very good shape as a team at the beginning of the season, and we’ve gotten in better condition since then. That’s really helping us play better.”
For the record, Quick, through Tuesday’s 52-33 home loss to Steamboat Springs at home, is averaging 16.4 points per game. Church is averaging 16.8 through Tuesday, with the 14 points she scored in the Bears’ 35-18 win over Steamboat Springs bringing that average down a bit.
Quick, the Bears’ 6-foot-6 post player, presents a definite size advantage inside the paint for Rifle. But that size advantage he had last year wasn’t utilized the way it could have been early in his junior year.
Rifle coach Roger Walters said Quick’s footwork and technique underneath the basket needed work when Walters first returned to coach the Bears prior to last season. That became a point of emphasis for Quick to improve on, along with some of his muscle mass.
And hitting the weight room this past summer made the biggest difference for Quick, who weighs close to 210 pounds after putting on 15 pounds of muscle. That extra bulk has also drawn the attention of the Bears’ opponents, whose efforts to key on him have opened up Rifle’s other scoring options.
One instance was Rifle’s 48-42 non-league win at Grand Junction Central on Jan. 7. At times, all five of Central’s defenders would converge on Quick when he was passed the ball down low. Quick finished with just one point, but he had nine rebounds and was able to find one of his four teammates who were wide open, thanks to the attention he was getting.
“The sad thing is he should be a junior,” Walters said. “He just turned 17 not long ago. I would love to be able to have a kid like him for another year.”
Church isn’t just scoring either, though her 5-5 frame isn’t nearly as towering as Quick’s. She averages 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this year and has 152 total points scored through nine games.
What’s more, the research done by first-year coach Kristy Wallner shows that Church has a realistic chance at reaching 1,000 points scored for her high school career — even with the unselfish attitude she’s shown.
“Actually, I’m trying to get her to shoot it more,” Wallner said. “She’s very unselfish, and we’re trying to get her in positions where she can be successful and help make us successful. What she’s given us is just awesome, though.”
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Fans, players and coaches on both sides of Stubler Memorial Field seemed to know it would come down just the way it did, regardless of who had the ball at the end.