Glenwood pulls away late, sweeps Rifle in heated matchup
The Rifle Bears and the Glenwood Springs Demons turned in classic rivalry showdowns Friday night inside Jack Smith Gymnasium at Rifle High School, as both games featured tight scores late in the third quarter. In the end though, the Glenwood girls and boys basketball teams pulled away in the fourth quarter for double-digit wins in 4A Western Slope League, sweeping the rivalry matchup for the 2018-19 season.
Late in the third quarter of the girls game, Rifle freshman guard Jamie Caron hit a driving layup through contact before sinking the ensuing free throw for the conventional 3-point play, pulling Rifle to within 1 point at 26-25 at home, igniting the home crowd.
That would be it for the excitement in the end as from that point on Glenwood regrouped and ran away for a 54-42 win in 4A Western Slope League action, giving veteran Glenwood head coach Rhonda Moser her first win in Rifle while in charge of the Glenwood program.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, and we knew they were prepared,” said Moser. “[Eric} Caro knows all of our kids, so it was no surprise they were going to be prepared. They fought hard and gave us all we could handle, but our girls buckled down defensively and that led to our offense.”
Following Caron’s free throw, Glenwood went on an 11-0 run to close the third quarter and open the fourth quarter, salting the game away.
Glenwood junior forward Michelle Marshall came up large off the bench in the second half for the Demons, stealing a pass at the top of the key and racing the other way for a layup to make it 28-25.
“She’s just a really smart player,” said Moser. “She really knows her role and steps in and does it well. That steal was key for us and really sparked us in a rough third quarter for us.”
Senior Emily Worline then hit a driving layup, a runner from the right block, and splashed home a 3-pointer, helping the Demons take a 37-25 lead.
“Glenwood’s just really talented,” said Eric Caro, Rifle’s head coach. “Fouling really hurt us in the first half and put us in trouble there, but Glenwood just has so much talent and is a really good team. Our girls fought hard, but Glenwood was better in the end.”
Rifle did its best to fight back in the fourth quarter as senior Masi Smith hit a 3-pointer and senior guard Danielle Doll came off the bench to drill two late 3-pointers, but Glenwood’s depth and experience was too much for the shorthanded Bears down the stretch, especially senior guard Ximena Gutierrez, who came up big defensively for much of the night, and turned in a season-high 18 points, taking charge of Glenwood’s attack early, forcing Rifle to focus on her defensively.
Gutierrez scored 8 points in the first quarter and had 12 points at the half before then adding 6 points in the fourth quarter, finishing 10-of-12 from the free throw line on the night.
“We’ve known all along that Emily is our leading scorer and teams are going to try and shut her down, and Ximena has really stepped up offensively,” said Moser. “The thing that’s great about Ximena is that she doesn’t force anything, and the thing that I love about her is that she just has grit and always steps up for us.”
Caron hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close the first quarter with the Bears trailing 12-9 before Glenwood went on a 6-0 run to open the second quarter as the Demon went 4-for-6 from the free throw line in that span. Rifle answered back with a 6-0 run of its own as Smith took over, hitting a jumper and a layup, and senior April Quinones hit a runner in transition, making it an 18-15 game.
The Bears opened the second half on a 6-0 run thanks to junior Delaney Phillips, who led the Bears with 8 points on the night. As Phillips sparked the Bears to open the second half, Rifle’s defense held Glenwood scoreless until late in the third quarter, starting with Marshall’s steal.
In the win, Gutierrez paced Glenwood (11-8, 7-1 4A WSL) with 18 points, while Worline added 11 points. Marshall and junior Qwynn Massie chipped in with 6 points each.
Phillips led Rifle (4-14, 4-4 4A WSL) with 8 points, while Smith and Quinones added 7 points, and Doll added 6 points.
“Danielle stepped in for us and she knows she’s a great shooter,” said Caro. “I also thought Masi did a really good job getting everyone involved tonight as a passer out of the post. This is just another step in the process of showing these girls how talented they are.”
Glenwood Springs 76, Rifle 56
The final score between the Rifle Bears and the Glenwood Springs Demons boys basketball team certainly didn’t reflect the totality of the game, as it was much closer for stretches than the final numbers on the board showed.
In fact, Rifle cut the Glenwood lead to just 8 points at 51-43 heading into the fourth quarter, showing some grit and determination late in the third quarter at home in the rivalry matchup after the Demons stormed out of the locker room and pushed their lead to 46-26, seemingly putting the game out of reach as seniors Wyatt Ewer, Chano Gonzalez, and Wyatt Ewer hit shots to open the third quarter.
The Bears rallied though as senior Joel Lopez hit two tough shots in the paint, junior guard Trey Lujan drilled two 3-pointers, and junior Carter Pressler hit two driving layups in transition.
“That’s a testament to Rifle; they’re a good ball team,” said Fred Heisel, Glenwood’s head coach. “I think we got a little lacksadasical defensively and felt rushed offensively, and Rifle came out and played well defensively and hit some shots. We knew coming in here that they’re a good team.”
Rifle’s run didn’t seem to fluster the Demons though, as Glenwood responded with a 25-point fourth quarter, showcasing their run-and-gun ability with some flair, overwhelming the shorthanded Bears down the stretch.
Glenwood went on runs of 5-0, 6-0 and 7-0 in the fourth quarter, pulling away for good from the rival Bears.
As it has been this season, as Gonzalez goes, so go the Demons. The standout senior poured in a game-high 26 points for Glenwood – one shy of his career-high 27 points from earlier in the season – hitting two 3-pointers and eight 2-pointers in the game, often finishing the fast break at the rim for the Demons.
“He’s been the center of the team for us,” said Heisel. “This year it was just his turn to produce. We all look to Chano; he’s just an incredible competitor that is very skilled and wants to produce.”
Despite the 20-point win, Glenwood had its hands full early as Lopez took the game over early in the first quarter, leading the Bears to an early 7-2 lead, scoring two big buckets in the paint off of offensive rebounds. The two rivals traded buckets down the stretch in the first quarter before Glenwood raced to a 36-24 lead at the half as senior Holden Kleager hit back-to-back free buckets, and junior Will Narvaez hit a layup in transition, opening things up for the Demons.
In the win, Gonzalez led the Demons (15-8, 8-0 4A WSL) with 26 points, while Garcia added 15 points. Ewer chipped in with 9 points, while Gair added 8 points. For Rifle (11-8, 2-6 4A WSL), Lujan led the Bears with 17 points, while Lopez added 13 points and Pressler added 10 points.
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Rifle High School wrestling won its matchup with Glenwood Springs Tuesday at the Glenwood triangular, while the Palisade Bulldogs took down both local teams.