Bears get hot late
Post Independent Staff
By any definition Thursday’s Rifle-Glenwood Springs girls basketball game wasn’t by-the-book or pretty, but it certainly had its share of excitement.
After trailing most of the game, the visiting Bears found their offense in the fourth quarter, scoring 18 points in the final eight minutes to wrest a 42-36 victory away from the upset-minded Demons.
“I thought (Glenwood) had really taken it to us in the first three quarters of the game,” Rifle coach Rick Schmitz said. “Then a couple of people stepped up and hit some big shots.”
Especially Rifle forward Krista Wagstrom.
The senior, who had trouble finding the hoop with any regularity in the first half, scored all 10 of her points in the final two periods, including two clutch free throws with 3 minutes, 51 seconds remaining to give the Bears (7-4 overall, 4-0 Western Slope League) the lead for good.
“We just made up our mind that we wanted to win,” Wagstrom said. “We weren’t ready to give this game up. So we all did what we needed to do and stepped up.”
Prior to the fourth quarter, Glenwood (5-6, 2-2) was the better team.
Keegan Nadon’s buzzer beater in the first quarter gave the Demons a lead they would hold, and build to nine points early in the third period.
Buckets by Nikita Daniely and Yuri Salvidrez put Glenwood up 24-15 with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
Wagstrom hit her first bucket in 12 tries to spark a short Rifle run that got the Bears within two of Glenwood’s lead when guard Kristin Neffendorf scored off a Glenwood turnover.
The Demons responded to the challenge by scoring four quick points in the remaining 25 seconds of the frame to pull back to a 30-24 lead.
Neither team did much in the fourth quarter’s first minute. Then Daniely, who had eight points and played a major role in clogging up the middle, fouled out of the game with 6:54 remaining.
And the momentum shifted back to Rifle.
Schmitz said Daniely’s fouling out wasn’t that much of a factor. Rather, he said, “we turned our defense up in the fourth quarter.”
Down the stretch, Rifle held Glenwood to two field goals in 11 shots.
“That gave us some opportunities at the offensive end,” explained Schmitz.
And Neffendorf, who tied Wagstrom with 16 points, hit three straight field goals, including the game’s lone three-pointer, for the Bears’ first lead since the first quarter.
Glenwood freshman Sam Ciani, gave the Demons the lead right back with a bucket on the next possession.
It turned out to be one of only two field goals Glenwood scored in the period.
Wagstrom’s free throws came via a Marina Flores personal foul. Then, the Rifle senior extended the Bears’ lead, after a Demon turnover, on a pull-up jumper with 2:02 left.
Glenwood closed to within three of Rifle’s lead on Amber Sutherland’s bucket in the waning seconds, but never got any closer.
Neffendorf and Haley Hubble iced the contest by making three of four free throw attempts.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.