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Bears have ups and downs

Jeff Caspersen Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

BASALT Kathyrne Fitzpatrick’s free throw with 5.3 seconds remaining rendered Alissa Skinner’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer meaningless as Basalt held on for a 58-57 girls basketball win over visiting Rifle on Thursday.Fitzpatrick made her second of two free throws on that fateful trip to the line as the Bears had shifted into foul mode down the stretch. Skinner turned around and heaved up a desperation triple from just beyond the arc, leaving the Bears a point short.It was a sloppy, turnover-laden season opener for a pair of teams that ended the 2006-07 season with successful playoff runs – the Longhorns finishing as the state runner-ups in Class 3A and Rifle making the Class 4A Great Eight.Rifle coach Brad Skinner, whose team led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, would have liked a cleaner game from his Bears.”Lots of turnovers,” he said. “We did not handle the ball well. We’ve got to start taking care of the ball, making smarter passes. We’ve got a lot to work on, but the effort was there.”A nine-turnover first quarter put Rifle in an early 14-10 hole. The Bears remained sluggish until late in the second quarter, when they closed the half on 12-2 run to go up 26-21 at the break.Powered by 10 third-quarter points from sophomore Quincey Snyder, Rifle upped its lead to 35-25 at one point in the third. They closed the up-tempo frame up 43-38. But the host Longhorns wrestled back the momentum in the fourth, opening on a 7-0 run to go up 45-43 and eventually going up by as much as seven in the waning moments.A pair of Chelsea Webb 3-pointers in the final two minutes kept it close until late, but free throws and the Basalt defense kept the Bears at bay when it mattered most.Snyder finished with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds in a breakout game for the Rifle youngster. Senior Megan McWilliams added 13 points and eight rebounds and Webb wrapped the night with 12 points.Snyder isn’t worried about the sloppy opener. She and her teammates will immediately go to work on fine-tuning their game.”We just gotta clean it up a little,” she said. “Practice, persevere, get through all the little things that make the difference.”Fitzpatrick finished with a team-best 15 points for Basalt, which also got nine points from both Melissa Stewart and Dayne Toney.

BASALT For all the drama of the game that proceeded it – a contest decided by a single point in thrilling fashion – the Thursday night boys game between Basalt and Rifle proved anti-climactic. The visiting Bears ran all over the Longhorns, going ahead 26-8 after a quarter and never looking back in a 76-31 boys basketball rout.Scott Rust poured in 24 points, brother Tyler Rust added 16 points and Eric Laudick had 14 points to pace the heavy-pressing Bears. Despite the lopsided outcome, Rifle coach Chris Lowther saw plenty of room for improvement after the season-opening win.”We can make some improvements from here,” he said. “We can get a lot better. We’re looking forward to playing Fruita Monument next Tuesday and then (Grand Junction) Central Friday. We’re looking forward to those.”Both those games will be against Class 5A schools, a class higher than Rifle, which should serve as a better gauge of just where this Bear team is.Lowther was especially proud of was the play of senior Hazen Moss, who’s sat out the last two seasons with a knee injury. Moss finished with six points, all from the free throw line, and made his presence felt down low.”I was happy to see Hazen Moss do so well,” the coach lauded. “He’s been injured the last two years so I’m just happy he’s able to play. He’s been part of this group since they were so little. I want him to enjoy his senior season.”Connor Rakowski led Class 3A Basalt with eight points. Tylor Forman-Niko and Omar Lopez chipped in with seven points apiece.


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