Cardinals split with Bears in nonconference tilt
In a matchup of two heavyweights in girl’s basketball Saturday evening inside Jack Smith Gymnasium at Rifle High School, the veteran Rifle Bears’ girls basketball team pulled away late in the fourth quarter behind a 16-0 run for an eventual 48-41 knock-down, drag-out battle against the visiting Grand Valley Cardinals in nonconference action between the 3A Cardinals and 4A Bears.
With two all-state caliber guards in Grand Valley’s Shaya Chenoweth and Rifle’s Elly Walters going head-to-head Saturday on the court, the game was expected to be a shootout, but instead both teams played exceptional defense, leading to the close game.
Since both teams played the night before, the first quarter was a bit sluggish for each team as the girls tried to find their legs. Grand Valley held a 10-5 lead after one quarter of play thanks to a runner in the lane and a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Jordyn Pittman, who had to take on some of the scoring responsibilities in the first half as Walters locked down Chenoweth offensively.
Rifle tried to get going offensively, but turnovers and sloppy passing resulted in the low-scoring first quarter. Junior forward Masi Smith hit a layup through contact but missed the ensuing free throw, and senior center Peyton Caldwell splashed home a 3-pointer off of an inbounds play.
“I’m not sure what the issue was for us early in the game,” Rifle Head Coach Kristy Wallner said. “I don’t know if the girls were a little worn down, or if there was some nerves. We had a tough game against Palisade the night before. Getting our legs was taking a little bit. The adrenaline from going down and beating Palisade in a close game and then having to turn around and get ready for Grand Valley might have accounted for it, but we have to play harder and come out better, no matter the circumstances. I thought Grand Valley did a wonderful job.
“They’re well-coached, very athletic and really stuck it to us.”
Following a slow first quarter, the action picked up a bit in the second as Rifle senior guard Katy Manuppella dialed in from 3-point range, splashing home a triple from the right wing to get Rifle back on track. Pittman then grabbed an offensive board at the other end and got the putback shot to fall before Smith answered with a cutting floater in the lane for the Bears to make it 12-10 Cardinals.
On Rifle’s next possession, Walters caught the Cardinals’ defense napping, drilling a 3-pointer from the left wing, but Grand Valley senior guard Danielle Call answered right back with a 3-pointer of her own to push the Cardinals back in front, 15-13.
Building off of Call’s triple, Grand Valley went on a quick 4-0 run as Chenoweth and Pittman hit tough shots in the lane to stretch the Grand Valley lead to 19-13, but Smith came right back strong in the paint, hitting a layup through contact to head to the line. Smith ended up sinking the free throw to cap off the 3-point play, but officials waved it off for a lane violation on Rifle.
Down the stretch in the first half, Chenoweth and Smith split a pair of free throws as the Cardinals raced into the half with a 20-16 lead on the road.
Coming out of the break, the Bears — namely Walters — seemed to find their legs as Walters ripped off a personal 7-0 run, capped off by a steal and a mid-range jumper in transition to push Rifle into the lead at 23-20, forcing a Grand Valley timeout.
Chenoweth then split a pair of free throws on Grand Valley’s next possession before Pittman grabbed another offensive rebound and got the shot to fall, tying the game at 23-23 midway through the third.
Walters gave Rifle the lead right back at 25-23 with a pair of free throws, but Grand Valley went on a 6-0 run to close the quarter as Chenoweth hit two straight layups to give the Cardinals a 29-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, Grand Valley continued its run as Chenoweth splashed home a 3-pointer and then stole the ball and laid it in to give Grand Valley a 34-25 lead, but the Bears wouldn’t go quietly.
Katy Manuppella hit her second 3-pointer of the game before twin sister, Karly, hit two free throws to pull the Bears back to within four at 34-30.
Chenoweth answered with two free throws of her own, but that would be it for the Cardinals for a long stretch of time in the fourth quarter as Rifle embarked on the 16-0 run, highlighted by an 11-for-12 performance from the free throw line, which ended up being 15 for 16 in the fourth quarter for the Bears as a whole.
In the 16-0 run, Karly Manuppella was clutch from the free throw line, sinking all six attempts, while Caldwell hit two free throws and Walters went 3 for 4.
At the end of the run, Rifle held a 46-36 lead, all but clinching the win.
“The sense of urgency for us became greater in the fourth,” Wallner said. “And we were able to get lucky with some turnovers in the fourth with our full-court press. Grand Valley was up and in a position where they could hold the ball, so we knew we had to bring some pressure to try and get some possessions. We were able to create some turnovers with the pressure, and then we converted. Once we got the lead, we were able to hold the ball and hit our free throws.”
Freshman Tabitha Call hit a 3-pointer for the Cardinals to stop the Rifle run before Chenoweth hit two free throws to pull to within five points late, 46-41, but Rifle sophomore Taylor Davis closed out the game for the Bears with two free throws.
Walters finished with 18 points for the Bears, while Smith added 9 points. Karly Manuppella added 8 points, while Katy Manuppella chipped in with 6 points for Rifle (16-1, 7-0 4A WSL).
Chenoweth finished with a game-high 20 points for the Cardinals, while Pittman added 11 points. Tabitha Call finished with 5 points for Grand Valley (9-6, 3-2 3A WSL).
GRAND VALLEY 44, RIFLE 33
The Rifle Bears’ boys basketball team’s zone defense certainly slowed the pace down considerably for the visiting Grand Valley Cardinals’ fast-paced attack, but it failed to account for powerful center Indra Griggs in the paint in Saturday’s 44-33 Cardinal win inside Jack Smith Gymnasium.
Griggs poured in a game-high 20 points in the paint, taking advantage of his physicality and size in the post to handle the boards for the Cardinals at both ends and allowing Grand Valley to hold off the battling Bears in Saturday’s nonconference matchup.
“He was just aggressive and confident today,” Grand Valley Head Coach Scott Parker said. “When he does that stuff, he’s going to put up some points for us like he did today.”
As Griggs poured in shot after shot in the paint, senior point guard Kade Hurst was the unsung hero for the Cardinals, dishing out nearly 10 assists in the win, often finding Griggs for easy layups behind Rifle’s zone defense.
Grand Valley raced out to a 10-0 lead behind two 3-point plays in the paint from Griggs off of assists from Hurst, as well as a layup from Hurst and a layup from senior Jeff Holbrook before Rifle was able to get on the board at 10-2 with a driving layup from senior center Evan Gray.
Senior guard Jacob Seeman then added to the Rifle total with a deep 3-pointer from the left wing and a runner in the lane to make it 10-7 Cardinals, but a 3-point play from senior guard Laytham Magana sent the Cardinals into the second quarter with a 13-7 lead after one quarter, in which two technical fouls were handed to a player on both teams for post-play language.
In the second quarter, Grand Valley senior guard Garett Magee seemed to find his comfort zone for the Cardinals, hitting 3 of 4 free throws from the line before burying a 3-pointer to give Grand Valley a 21-7 lead.
From there the Bears battled back as junior forward Christian Trevizo hit a tough shot in the paint, while Seeman hit his second 3-pointer of the game.
Griggs then scored five straight points down the stretch for the Cardinals, but Trevizo hit a layup off of an impressive assist from junior guard Joel Lopez, while sophomore Tanner Cotner hit a jumper and Seeman splashed home his third 3-pointer of the game to send the two teams into the half with the Cardinals in front, 27-19.
Grand Valley came out fast in the second half as Griggs and Hurst hooked up for another basket in the paint, but Rifle held strong as Cotner split a pair of free throws and junior guard Trey Lujan hit a jumper from just inside the free throw line to make it 30-22 Grand Valley.
Griggs then hit a layup underneath off a slick feed from Hurst before the big junior split a pair of free throws to put Grand Valley in front 33-22.
A jumper from Rifle’s Carter Pressler capped off the third quarter with Grand Valley holding a 34-26 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
In the fourth, Griggs and Hurst took over for the Cardinals, scoring 6 of the 10 Grand Valley points in the quarter, with Hurst assisting on both of Griggs’ buckets, leading the Cardinals to the win against a Rifle team that battled hard all game long.
Griggs led the Cardinals with 20 points, while Magee and Hurst added 11 and 7 points, respectively, for Grand Valley (13-2, 3-2 3A WSL).
Seeman led the Bears with 15 points, while Lujan and Trevizo added 6 and 4 points for Rifle (2-15, 1-7 4A WSL).