Masi Smith’s double-double leads Rifle Bears to win over Summit Tigers
Right from the opening tip of Tuesday’s 4A Western Slope League clash inside Jack Smith Gymnasium at Rifle High School, Bears senior forward Masi Smith was a forced to be reckoned with at both ends of the floor.
The senior, playing in the gymnasium named after her grandfather, poured in six first-quarter points and ripped down four rebounds in the first eight minutes of the game, sparking her team to an eventual 40-32 win over the visiting Summit Tigers. Smith finished with a game-high 17 points and added 15 rebounds in the win.
“We’re great when Masi is great,” said Eric Caro, Rifle’s head coach. “The girls really look up to Masi, and she’s a driving force for us. When she plays hard, the team plays hard. She was all heart and effort tonight. She had a huge night playing in the gym named after her grandpa; she loves playing in here, and it showed against Summit.”
After one quarter of play the Bears found themselves locked in an 8-8 tie with the Tigers. Things started sloppy in the second quarter as both team struggled to score and take care of the ball, turning the ball over a combined 20 times in the first half.
But Rifle righted itself, going on a late 8-0 run to close the first half and take a 16-10 lead as freshman Sage Allen hit a layup in transition, and junior April Quinones hit a runner and converted a steal into a layup, sending the Bears riding high headed into the break.
“I think the girls came out mostly flat overall,” said Eric Caro, Rifle’s head coach. “It wasn’t a lack of effort in the first quarter; we just felt flat. But once we turned it on, we really took off, and it showed down the stretch in the first half.”
The third quarter saw things open up into a fast-paced game as junior Delaney Phillips drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing for the Bears, and Quinones hit a tear-drop runner in the lane, stretching Rifle’s lead to 21-10.
Summit started to chip away, though, and eventually made it a 26-23 game early in the fourth quarter, but the Bears put the hammer down, going on a 10-0 run as Smith split a pair of technical foul free throws, and Phillips split a pair of free throws. Smith then hit a putback layup in traffic and a runner on the next possession, before freshman Jamie Caron closed out the run with a steal and a layup, giving the Bears a 36-23 lead.
The Tigers closed the game strongly, though, as junior point guard Nicole Kimball hit two 3-pointers, and junior Anna Tomlinson converted a 3-point play to make it a six-point game at 38-32. But Smith, as she did all night, came through in the end for the Bears, grabbing her 15th rebound and drawing the foul late, converting both free throws to close out the win for the Bears.
In the win, Smith led the way with 17 points and 15 rebounds, while Caron and Quinones added 9 and 7 points each.
The Bears sit at 3-10 (3-1 4A WSL), and are winners of three of their last four. Rifle takes on Palisade Friday night on the road at 5:30 p.m.
“We wanted to be tested early in the season, and we were definitely tested,” said Caro. “You don’t want the girls to get caught up in the record, but it feels so good to win. Our girls are so tough and so talented; it’s great to see the hard work paying off, and hopefully we can keep this going.”
Rifle 60, Summit 47
A 15-0 run midway through the second quarter helped the Rifle Bears boys basketball team shake off a slow start and run away for a 13-point win in 4A Western Slope League play over the visiting Summit Tigers Tuesday night.
The Bears fell behind 11-1 quickly as Summit standout senior guard Wyatt Buller hit three 3-pointers, forcing a quick timeout from Rifle head coach Kyle Daniell. Following the quick break, Rifle righted the ship and found its groove offensively, closing the first quarter down 16-11 thanks to a 9-0 run with 5 points from senior Joel Lopez and a layup from Alonzo Ruiz that got the Bears back into the game.
“We started to play hard, play smart, and work as a team,” said Trey Lujan, Rifle’s junior guard. “When we get into slumps like that, it’s important for us to pick things back up as a team. We were able to do that.”
That late run in the first quarter set up the pivotal 15-0 run in the second quarter. Summit stretched its lead to 20-11 early in the second quarter, but Rifle embarked on its run as junior Trey Lujan hit a 3-pointer to kick things off. Following Lujan’s three, Lopez hit two free throws and a layup, before converting a jumper from the free throw line.
Senior Omar Chavez then hit a runner and converted two free throws before junior Carter Pressler capped off the run with a steal and a layup, giving the Bears a 26-20 lead. Buller hit a late 3-pointer right before the half to send the two teams into the break with Rifle in the lead at 26-23.
“That run got us back in the ballgame after absorbing that slow start, and it showed the group that getting back to playing our game and doing what we do in practice, we’ll be alright,” said Daniell.
Coming out of the half, Rifle stayed red hot offensively, matching shot for shot with Buller, who finished with a game-high 31 points in the loss.
As Buller continued to drill 3-pointers, Rifle kept going to the rack as Lujan hit two layups and converted two free throws to give the Bears a 32-26 lead. It was Rifle’s turn to hit a 3-pointer as junior Garrett Robinson splashed home a triple from the left wing to make it 35-26 midway through the third quarter.
Summit closed the quarter in impressive fashion, though, as Buller converted a 3-point play in the lane and then drilled his fifth 3-pointer of the game, pulling the Tigers to within four points at the end of the third quarter, 39-35.
Rifle wasn’t letting the game get away in the fourth quarter.
The Bears went on runs of 7-0 and 6-0 in the fourth quarter to open up major breathing room against the Tigers, going 10-for-12 from the free throw line in the final quarter to hold off a Tigers rally attempt that saw Buller hit two 3-pointers in six seconds.
“That’s a big league win for us,” said Lujan. “We played smart, and we played hard. That’s two in a row for us in league play. It feels good.”
Aside from Buller’s 31 points with seven 3-pointers made, Rifle held the rest of Summit’s roster to just 16 total points, good enough for a winning defensive effort.
Offensively, Lujan led the Bears with 18 points, while Chavez and Lopez added 17 and 10 points, respectively.
The win moves Rifle to 10-4 (2-2 4A WSL) on the season. Rifle takes on Palisade Friday night on the road at 7 p.m.
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