Free throws seal Rifle girls victory over Central |

Free throws seal Rifle girls victory over Central

Post Independent Photo/Jim NoelkerPlayers on the Rifle bench cheer with their fans after defeating Central High School 51-38 Thursday at Rifle High School.

RIFLE ” Free throws may be boring, but, when you hit enough of them, you win basketball games.

The Rifle High School girls hit 21-of-27 free throws Thursday night. The result, a 51-38 nonleague victory over Grand Junction Central. The win not only evens the Bears overall record at 3-3 on the season, but, more importantly, gives Rifle a boost heading into Saturday’s Western Slope League opener with Battle Mountain.

“This is huge for us,” said Rifle coach Rick Schmitz. “This gives us some momentum going into league.”

Beyond the free throws, the Bears earned the win on the defensive end of the court.

The Warriors Alex Carlson forced a couple of ties with two buckets in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. Those two field goals turned out to be the only ones Central would score in the period.

Rifle’s Renee Laudick hit the first of three field goals the junior would score in the quarter, breaking a 38-all tie with 5 minutes, 53 seconds left.

Her second bucket, a weaving lay-in a couple of possessions later, opened a three-point lead and sparked a Bear 11-0 run to the final buzzer.

Laudick’s final basket, a 13-footer on a feed from guard Kristen Neffendorf, gave Rifle a eight-point cushion, forced Central to call time out, and pretty much put the game on ice.

Not bad for a player, who was about to be subbed for.

“I was about to take Renee out because she wasn’t rebounding,” Schmitz said. “But, she came up big.”

A few other Bears loomed just as large Thursday night.

Neffendorf popped in a game-high 15 points. Two other Rifle players ” Julie McWilliams and Haley Hubble ” also finished in double figures with 13 and 11 points.

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