Chavez’s buzzer beater lifts Rifle over Montrose |

Chavez’s buzzer beater lifts Rifle over Montrose

Omar Chavez wouldn't be denied.

The Rifle senior guard hit the game-winning shot as time expired Tuesday night inside Jack Smith Gymnasium, lifting the Rifle Bears boys basketball team to an exhilarating 47-46 win over the visiting Montrose Indians in the first game back from holiday break. Chavez's basket was the ultimate deciding factor in a game that saw 10 lead changes or ties in the second half alone, helping the Bears close out non-league play in style.

"I faked deep and then went back in short, looking for a shot or a kickout," said Chavez after the win. "I saw it open up, and I'm glad it went in. I missed a potential game-winning shot last season, so to see that one go in to give us a big win over a good Montrose team feels so good."

Prior to Chavez's heroics, it appeared as though Montrose was going to pull out the win as junior center Trey Schwerdtfeger drew a foul with 9.1 seconds left and split the free throws, giving the Indians a 46-45 lead. But a quick timeout by Rifle head coach Kyle Daniell allowed the Bears to put the ball in Chavez's hands for the winning shot.

“We’re talking about a JV player as a junior who worked his way up to starting on varsity and then gets hurt. Then to work his tail off all season, it was so good to see that one go in.”

— Kyle Daniell, Rifle head coach

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"The matchup catered to Omar in the second half," said Daniell. "It was very nice to see him hit that shot. We're talking about a JV player as a junior who worked his way up to starting on varsity and then gets hurt. Then to work his tail off all season, it was so good to see that one go in."

Early on in the matchup against the Indians, Rifle was locked in defensively from the opening tipoff, closing down passing and cutting lanes inside, forcing Montrose to settle for shots outside of the paint. That helped the Bears race out to a 10-5 lead after one quarter of play as junior guard Garrett Robinson drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the arc, getting the Bears going offensively.

Holding a lead after one quarter of play, the Bears continued to make life tough for Montrose on the offensive end until a 3-pointer from junior Sean Alex opened things up for the Indians right before the half. A putback at the halftime buzzer by junior Trey Lujan sent the Bears into the half with an 18-14 lead at home.

That would be a sign of things to come for both teams as the offenses got into a groove in the second half as the teams combined for 33 third-quarter points.

Alex caught fire from beyond the arc, hitting two 3-pointers and converting a steal and a layup, giving the Indians the lead at 31-30, creating the run of lead changes or ties.

But the Rifle defense clamped down on Alex, shutting him out the rest of the way, forcing the Indians to find offense elsewhere.

"We didn't change much, really," said Daniell. "We had to key on him a bit more, but he was the perfect example of good players making plays. That's going to happen in games, and he did a nice job of that, even after he stopped scoring. He made some great interior passes and forced a couple of turnovers."

As Alex kept the Indians running like a fine-tuned machine, Chavez and fellow senior Christian Trevizo locked in for the Bears. Trevizo hit a runner early in the fourth quarter to cut the Indians' lead to 35-34, while senior Darien Church hit a tough baseline layup and Chavez converted through contact, tying the game up at 40-40 midway through the fourth quarter.

"It was huge to see guys like Christian and Darien come off the bench, be aggressive, and get rewarded," said Daniell. "They've earned the right to be aggressive and it was great to get some of that secondary scoring we've been looking for."

Late in the quarter Chavez hit a free throw and a layup to make it 43-42 Rifle, but Montrose answered with a 3-point play by Schwerdtfeger, making it 45-43 Montrose. Once again, Chavez stepped up, hitting a layup in transition to tie it at 45-45, setting up Schwerdtfeger's go-ahead free throw and Chavez's heroics.

"The boys deserved that win," said Daniell. "I'm sure Montrose feels the same way, but we needed that one, especially in a back-and-forth game like that. We needed a game like this because once we get to league play, things are going to be tight, and every game will be like this. That was just two good teams getting after it, and our defense carried us."

In the win, Chavez led the way with 16 points, while Trevizo added 10 points off the bench. Church chipped in with five crucial second-half points. Rifle (7-2) travels to Glenwood Springs Friday night for its league opener against the rival Demons at 7:30 p.m.


Montrose 47, Rifle 31

Coming off of a long holiday break, the Rifle Bears girls basketball team came out red-hot Tuesday night inside Jack Smith Gymnasium against the visiting Montrose Indians.

Rifle clamped down defensively and hit some timely first-half shots, but that magic ran out in the second half as the Bears wore down against the deep Indians, resulting in a 47-31 loss at home in non-league play.

"We had a good game plan going in," said Eric Caro. "We knew they had a team full of shooters. Coming out of break, we expected our girls to play like this. We had our girls put up more than 2,000 shots in our limited practice time due to CHSAA roles, so I was expecting them to come out and play the way they did."

The Bears came out and bullied the Indians into bad shots offensively, resulting in a 3-3 tie after one quarter of play as Montrose's Kennadie Minerich hit a 3-pointer, while Rifle senior Masi Smith hit a 3-pointer of her own.

Rifle kept up the defensive pressure in the second quarter while adding some offense to it as the Bears went into the half with a 14-12 lead.

In the second quarter, Rifle junior Delaney Phillips hit a corner 3-pointer, while sophomore Mackenzie Elizardo and freshman Jamie Caron forced turnovers and converted them into layups, pushing the Bears out in front. A desperation heave from midcourt by Montrose senior Michaela Ladage pulled the Indians to within two points at the half, setting up Montrose for its second half run.

Coming out of the break, Montrose pulled away for a 31-21 lead after three quarters as Montrose senior Breanna Moss, Minerich and junior Allie Nichols got going offensively, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and a steal and layup near the end of the quarter, forcing the Bears out of their gameplan and into catch-up mode.

The fourth quarter saw the Indians hit a pair of 3-pointers and take advantage of their opportunities at the free throw line, eventually leading to the 16-point win on the road.

The loss drops Rifle to 0-7 on the season, but that hasn't dampened the spirits of Caro in his first year at the helm.

"We're the best 0-7 team the state of Colorado has ever seen," said Caro. "I truly believe that. We just have to continue to get better and better, and understand what's needed out of each girl. Every single girl on this team is doing a great job."

For Rifle, Smith led the way with nine points, while Phillips added 6 points. Caron chipped in with six points as well, and Elizardo added five points.

April Quinones capped off the Bears on the stats sheet with four points.

Rifle travels to Glenwood Springs Friday night for a rivalry matchup with the Demons to open league play at 6 p.m.