League MVP leads Bears into first round | PostIndependent.com

League MVP leads Bears into first round

Post Independent File Photo/Kelley CoxRifle's Krista Wagstrom sets up for a rebound earlier this season. Wagstrom, a senior, was named the Class 4A Western Slope League Player of the Year. The Bears host a regional game tonight at 7 p.m.

RIFLE ” Running the floor, taking the court with her Bears teammates, swishing that turnaround jumper ” these moments have contributed to Krista Wagstrom’s life-long love affair with basketball.

“I’ve been around basketball forever,” the Rifle High School senior said. “I always loved to run. That’s why I love the game, because of how fast it is.”

But, Wagstrom said there was more than one element that makes the game fun for her.

“It’s the people you meet. My teammates are wonderful. We all feel loyalty to each other and we’re all good friends.”

Together, the Bears have put together a 18-4 record to date, which included a 16-game winning streak and a perfect 12-0 mark to claim the Class 4A Western Slope League regular-season title.

“We just went out and did our best,” Wagstrom said. “The good Lord blessed us this year.”

Wagstrom, in turn, has been a blessing for Rifle.

“(Krista) works five to six hours on some days to improve all aspects of her game,” commented Rifle coach Rick Schmitz when Wagstrom signed a letter-of-intent with Mesa State College in November. “The best quality about Krista is her burning desire to improve and be coached. She is not only an outstanding player, but she is an even better person.”

While Wagstrom has earned her share of personal accolades ” including being named the 2003-04 Western Slope League Player of the Year ” she remains focused on the team aspect of the game.

“I was really surprised, but I didn’t think much about it,” she said of earning the league MVP award after Saturday’s district championship match.

But the honor did little to soften the blow of the Bears’ 34-32 loss to Montrose.

“We all wanted that game really bad,” she said.

The best thing to come out of the loss is that Wagstrom and her teammates are still playing.

Rifle’s first-round state playoff opponent, Ralston Valley, ended the District 1 tournament on a strong note.

After losing a second-round game to Denver Manual, the 14-9 Mustangs take a two-game winning streak into tonight’s 7 p.m. playoff game at the Bear Lair.

Instead of one big gun on offense, Ralston Valley relies on a balanced scoring attack.

Sisters Jamie and Michelle Hynes average 13.5-points per game between them. The Mustangs’ other main scorer is Annie Beeble, who averaged six points a game on the season, but has improved on that average lately.

In district tournament victories against Manual and Conifer, Beeble scored 13 points in each games.

“It’s a playoff game and everyone will be up for it,” Wagstrom noted. “We just have to go out and give it our all and have fun out there.”

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