Defense sparks Rifle win
RIFLE – Defense might not raise eyebrows or lift fans out of their seats. But, when it’s done right, defense wins a lot of basketball games.At least it does for Rifle.In their first game back from the holiday break, the Bears held visiting Fruita Monument to single digits in first three quarters. Rifle never faced a serious challenge from the Class 5A Wildcats after the first period while rolling to a 49-35 win.”We didn’t stop playing defense the whole game. Sometimes that’s all you need” said Rifle coach Rick Schmitz of the team’s effort. Turns out Schmitz was right.Fruita, which dropped to 4-6 with the loss, never scored more than 10 points in a quarter and never had more than four goals swish through the net in any period.Overall, the Wildcats were 14-of-52 from the floor. Rifle wasn’t much better. The Bears hit only 33 percent (19-of-57), but they did force Fruita into 23 turnovers and got some well-timed free throws from Megan McWilliams, Kristin Guettler and Haley Hubbell to lead by nine at halftime.Prior to Rifle’s 4-0 run from the line in the final two minutes of the first half, a pair of baskets by Hubble turned a precarious Bears two-point lead into a comfortable nine-point margin.Kristin Neffendorf finished as the game’s high scorer with 16 points. After intermission, the Wildcats, who hit just nine field goals in 22 attempts, in the first half, remained cloaked by Rifle’s defense.Erin Richardson was the only Fruita player to score in the third quarter’s first five minutes while the Bears took their greatest lead – 37-19 – by outscoring the Wildcats, 11-2.Fruita did pull within nine of Rifle’s lead when Sanja Moore and Erin Richardson hit back-to-back 3-pointers with 2:30 left in the game. “My only concern at that point was they were getting open looks at the basket,” Schmitz said of the Wildcats’ late surge.Brittnee Vagneur missed on Fruita’s next possession. Schmitz called time out, and the Bears responded by shutting out Fruita for the last 1:41 of the contest.Rifle boys loseThe Bears boys team didn’t have as much luck Tuesday night. Also, playing Fruita Monument in nonleague action, Rifle dropped a 59-47 decision to the Wildcats in Fruita.No other information was available at press time.
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