Bears, Demons go down to the wire
Post Independent Staff
Last-minute outcomes have become standard when the Glenwood Springs and Rifle boys basketball teams meet.
But Rifle’s 56-52 victory Friday was the second time in as many years the Bears (5-6 overall, 3-1 Western Slope League) have taken home a “W” from Glenwood’s Chavez-Spencer gymnasium.
The Demons, in the midst of a three-game losing streak, fell to 4-7 (1-3 league).
As usual, the winner wasn’t determined until the final seconds.
Free throws were the key factor. In a position to rally after Demon John Faris cut Rifle’s lead to 50-49 with 53 seconds left, a Glenwood foul put Rifle in the double bonus.
“The kind of personnel that we have, we feel that we can attack the basket, and that does lead to fouls.” said Rifle coach Chris Lowther.
And free throws.
In the game, Rifle was 20-of-27 from the line. Glenwood, which plays more of a perimeter game, hit 6-of-12 from the charity stripe.
The Bears showed they were dangerous from the free throw line when they hit 10-of-13 attempts from the line during the second quarter.
That allowed the Bears to take a 29-22 lead at intermission.
In crunch time, Rifle was just as accurate.
Troy Weiss popped in two charity tosses with 48 seconds left in the game for a three-point lead.
Next, Glenwood’s Sean Flohr, who led the Demons with 17 points, had a rare miss.
Rifle rebounds. Glenwood fouls. The Bears’ Jim Owens calmly makes both free throws. End of ballgame.
Sean Flohr teased the Glenwood faithful when he scored on a long baseline trey with nine seconds remaining. But their hopes were dashed when Weiss added the last two of his 15 points, on free throws, with two ticks left on the clock.
Glenwood looked unstoppable early. The Demons jumped to a 6-0 first-quarter lead before Jewell, who finished with 14, scored Rifle’s first points of the game two minutes in.
The field goal sparked a 7-0 Bear run and Rifle finished the quarter with a 5-0 run to go ahead 18-12.
In the second quarter, Glenwood closed the gap and John Gabriel knotted the game at 22-all with three minutes left.
Weiss answered with a three-pointer, however, sparking another Bear run, in which Rifle pulled ahead by seven points. Adam Krick and Jewell capped the run with a pair of free throws each in the opening half’s last nine seconds.
Despite the big lead, Lowther feared Glenwood’s offensive capabilities.
“I knew in the second half, they would make their run,” the coach said. “In this gym, (Glenwood) plays so well and it would be very hard to get any kind of cushion.”
The Demons chiseled away at the Bear lead after the half, forcing a couple of third-quarter ties on baskets from Oscar Jurado and Dustin Braeger, only to see Rifle regain the lead.
Down 37-35 going into the final frame, Michael Flohr’s lay-in gave the Demons a one-point lead with 4:58 to go.
The teams exchanged the lead until an alert Jewell scooped up a loose ball after a rare missed Bear free throw and scored with three minutes left. The Bears added to their cushion on successful free throws by Owens and Chris Jones with 1:32 left.
Michael Flohr and Faris scored the game’s next three points before Rifle’s free throws wrapped it up.
Both teams resume WSL play on the road next Friday. Rifle travels to Palisade and Glenwood goes to Delta. The teams swap opponents the next night. The Demons host Palisade on Saturday, while Rifle is at Delta.
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