Grand Valley girls nab 38-30 win over Rifle in Thursday opener |

Grand Valley girls nab 38-30 win over Rifle in Thursday opener

Rifle sophomore Jasmine Quinones dribbles the ball Thursday against Grand Valley. Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Bailey Radel was lights out from three-point land, AbbeyRose Parker posed a significant force on the drive and Grand Valley girls picked up their first win of the truncated 2021 season Thursday, 38-30 over Rifle.

After a Saturday win on the road at Eagle Valley, 66-51, the Lady Cardinals head into next week 2-0 on the season.

The first seven minutes of the first quarter against Rifle definitely belonged to the Bears. Junior shooting guard Jamie Caron, ending the game with 18 points, hit the Cardinals in their beaks at the 2:50 mark, stealing possession at half court and taking the ball into the offensive zone for an easy layup.

“(Caron’s) a real good player, just consistent,” Cardinals head coach Scott Parker said. “And she played really well … she was hard to stop.”

A couple minutes later, Bears senior forward Mackenzie Elizardo’s connection on one-of-two free throws put her team up 7-1 — which would ultimately end up being the Bears’ largest lead of the game.

Rifle head coach Eric Caro acknowledged Grand Valley’s experience.

“Nothing but compliments,” he said. “Grand Valley did a hell of a job. They’re going to be lethal for a long time.”

Bit by bit, the Cardinals pecked away, first with Radel draining her first three-pointer of the night, at the 1:14 mark of the first quarter.

“She’s a good shooter,” Scott Parker said. “We want her to shoot the three. We were able to get into some good sports and our kids found her.”

Grand Valley freshman Jaycee Pittman tries to strip the ball away from Rifle junior Jamie Caron Thursday. Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

The second quarter morphed into a back-and-forth affair between the two cross-county rivals. A two-point bucket by Caron at the 2:45 mark was swiftly answered back with another two points by Cardinals sophomore guard Linkin McCormick. But the Cardinals would go into halftime up 13-11, after Cardinals junior forward Katie Ray knocked in two consecutive free throws at the foul line.

Wasting no time giving her team the upper hand early in the third quarter, Radel drained her second dagger from downtown. Piggybacking from the arc, AbbeyRose Parker, finishing the game with 16 points, then chipped in her first three-pointer of the night at the 3:59 mark.

The Cardinals extended the lead to 11 points — their largest of the night — after their defenders came up big. Caron, who already notched six points in the game, was blocked by Radel and the Cardinals would go coast-to-coast for a layup courtesy of AbbeyRose Parker.

Down 27-17 going into the final frame, however, the Bears clawed their way to making it a game. Rifle sophomore shooting guard Lizbeth Gutiérrez Lopez would hit two free throws at the foul line to pull within eight points. Later on Caron hit another two points at the stripe to close the gap 29-21.

“Jamie’s just been impressing me day to day,” Caro said. “She had 18 points and she’s taking more responsibility on defense.”

The Bears would then truly have Grand Valley in the crosshairs after sophomore Rifle guard Jasmine Quinones took a steal from the Cardinals and chipped in a two-point bucket with about a couple minutes left in regulation.

“(Rifle) just started shaky, which I didn’t expect,” Rifle head coach Eric Caro said. “But we are also breaking in eight new varsity players. But they shook it off at the end of the game.”

A late-game steal by the Cardinals, however, would lead to a couple insurance points, which sent the Bears back the den.

Scott Parker said it feels good that his team nabbed their first win of the season, but he was more excited about something else.

“I’m more excited that all the kids got an opportunity to play,” he said. “With such a crazy year, bringing some normalcy to their lives? Obviously I’m happy that we won but I’m happy all the kids gotta play tonight.”

Caro said the same, despite his team dropping to 0-1 on the season.

“Yeah, the loss wasn’t fun,” he said. “But to see people out again, it felt good.”

Grand Valley added a 66-51 win against Eagle Valley Saturday night. The Cardinals head to Grand Junction Tuesday to take on Central at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Rifle hosts Steamboat Springs at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, then travels to Summit Thursday for a 4:30 p.m. game

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