Rifle’s Walters wins PI’s Female Athlete of the Month
Rifle junior guard Elly Walters has a keen sense of her surroundings on the basketball court. So much so that she’s often the one with the ball in her hands late in the game trying to figure out how best to attack the defense.
In that fashion, Walters sees a bit of similarity between attacking a defense and solving a math problem, which just so happens to be one of her favorite subjects at Rifle High School.
“As crazy as it kind of sounds, I like knowing that there’s a right answer to the problem or situation,” Walters said. “It’s just one of those things that I understand well. There’s a little bit of a correlation with basketball there, but in basketball there’s obviously more options to get to the right outcome you want. Numbers are involved so heavily in basketball.”
In Walters’ game, the numbers are astounding, propelling her into the top tier of guards in Class 4A in the state of Colorado.
During the 2016-17 regular season, in which the Rifle Bears girls basketball team rolled to a 20-3 record and a 4A Western Slope League crown, Walters averaged 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.2 steals per game for the Bears.
As a standout player on the floor and a strong student in the classroom, Walters has been awarded the PI’s Female Athlete of the Month as nominated by athletic directors.
“I’m honored to win this award,” Walters said. “There’s a lot of great kids in this valley, and we have a really good league, so just for me to be named one of these award winners means a lot to me.”
A quiet, lead-by-example player for the Bears, Walters started the calendar year off slowly with a tough game at Palisade, but down the stretch she was able to raise her game to a new level, highlighted by a near triple-double against Eagle Valley, two clutch free throws with one second left to beat Palisade at home and a 20-point outburst against Glenwood Springs to cap off the league championship at home inside Jack Smith Gymnasium.
She’ll get the accolades for her ability to score on a consistent basis, but what really sets her apart as a point guard is her ability to create things for teammates all over the floor. Combining that with her improvement as a leader played a big part in Bears winning the league title this season.
“It’s been fun to watch her evolve as a player, but it’s been more fun to watch her evolve as a leader,” Rifle Head Coach Kristy Wallner said. “With her level of talent she’s been a natural leader just in terms of leading by example since her freshman year, but this year there’s more of an intensity and an edge to her game and to her leadership ability.
“That’s been fantastic as a coach because when the kids are taking ownership, it’s better for the coach because they’re holding themselves accountable. Elly brings this floor general mentality that is effective, but it’s quiet. She’s really positive, and it’s been really neat to see her become more vocal.”
Although she still has one more full year left at Rifle to continue to leave a lasting legacy on the floor, Walters isn’t quite sure what she wants to do after high school .One thing she’s sure of, though, is that basketball will be a big part of that future, regardless of what school she attends.
“I just want to do whatever I can do to get to the next level,” Walters said. “I’ll play whatever position that they want, just as long as I get a chance to play.”
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