Bear girls fall to Grand Junction |

Bear girls fall to Grand Junction

Phil Sandoval

RIFLE – There are two ways that athletes can look at a loss.

They can choose to shrug it off and forget about it. Or accept it, correct what didn’t work, and go on.

That’s what Rifle girls basketball coach Rick Schmitz hopes his team learns from Tuesday’s 63-54 nonleague loss to Grand Junction.

Take away one poorly played stretch in the middle of the fourth quarter and the 1-1 Bears could have been in a position to defeat the Class 5A Tigers, who raised their record to 3-0 with the win.

“We just couldn’t stop them in those four minutes,” Schmitz said of Grand Junction’s 7-0 scoring run in which the Tigers pulled out from a 47-all tie to a 54-47 lead.

“They waited for a breakdown and it was there,” said Schmitz of the game’s turning point.

“We had some turnovers, a couple of reaching fouls and we didn’t get good looks at the basket,” the coach explained.

Grand Junction penetrated the Bear defense for easy, high-percentage shots in the run.

Six-foot-1 center Raysha Ritter opened things up for the Tigers when the freshman scored on a feed inside the paint from Leanne Olson.

Ritter, who scored 11 of her game-high 21 points in the second half, sank a foul shot to pull Grand Junction out to a three-point lead on the next possession.

While the Tigers extended its lead to seven on baskets from Audrey Butler and Jessica Brady, the Bears’ shooting turned cold.

After Julie McWilliams and Kristen Neffendorf’s period-opening field goals, it took Rifle four minutes to hit another basket.

Krista Wagstrom’s two-pointer turned out to be a temporary lull in the Bears’ scoring drought.

Grand Junction scored seven of the quarter’s remaining 11 points to put the game out of reach.

Prior to Ritter’s field goal, the two teams exchanged the lead 16 times between each other.

Rifle never led by more than two in the contest. The final time the Bears held the advantage was with 6:40 left on Nicole Erpstead’s short jumper from the left side.

The teams tied the score at 47 all when they exchanged free throws after personal fouls before Ritter’s basket.

Wagstrom finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds for Rifle. Three other Grand Junction starters finished in double figures.

Butler had 12 points, and junior guard Lauren Sells had 11, including three 3-pointers. Ashley Hunt added 10.

Rifle concludes this week’s play with three games in the Black Canyon Tournament at Montrose High School.

The Bears open the tournament Friday night against Bloomfield, N.M., then have two games on Saturday with Alameda, followed by host Montrose.

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