McWilliams propels Bears to last-second victory |

McWilliams propels Bears to last-second victory

GRAND JUNCTION – Sometimes Julie McWilliams has to be reminded to crash the boards after a missed shot.

“Coach is always reminding me to crash the boards,” she said.

It’s a good thing that she knows how to listen.

With the scored tied at 33-all in the game’s final minute, the junior pulled down a teammate’s miss, then scored the winning bucket with three seconds left for a 35-33 win on Thursday.

The victory advances 14-6 Rifle to today’s girls’ Class 4A District 7 tournament semifinals against No. 2 seed Montrose. The game is slated for 3 p.m. at Mesa State College

Palisade (6-14) plays Glenwood Springs in an elimination bracket game at 6:30 p.m. at Fruita Monument High School.

McWilliams admitted “it kind of surprised me,” of being in position to make the winning play, but she was ready when the opportunity came.

“I just told myself, `I have to make this. I have to make this,’ and it went it.”

“Julie was guarded in a box-and-one and she was still able to make the play,” said Rifle head coach Rick Schmitz. “It was huge that she made that big play at the end.”

McWilliams was huge throughout the fourth quarter. The forward scored all 10 of her points in the period.

Twice McWilliams drained big 3-pointers to get Rifle back in the game.

Her first trey pulled the Bears within one of Palisade after the Bulldogs had taken a six-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter.

After Palisade raised its lead back to four, McWilliams singed the nets for her second trey to again get within one point of the Bulldogs lead.

Two free throws by Kristen Hayes with 3 minutes, 3 seconds to go moved Palisade’s lead to three.

Ashley Gavito, who finished with 11 points, tied the game at 31 on a feed from Krista Wagstrom. McWilliams followed, scoring a possession later for a short-lived lead.

Sammi Richards, one of only three Palisade players to score, tied the game on a six-footer with 50 seconds left.

Rifle held the ball for a last shot, but the attempt missed. McWilliams reacted, got to the ball, then put it home for the winner.

Both teams were tied at halftime, and Rifle was down by as many as eight midway in the third quarter before outscoring Palisade 17-9 in the game’s final eight minutes.

Rifle 35, Palisade 33

Palisade 3 7 14 9-33

Rifle 8 2 8 17-35

PALISADE – Ashley Tuttle 0 0-0 0, Jodi Watson 0 0-0 0, Jessica Sargent 3 0-0 6, Sammi Richards 6 4-6 16, Kelsey Harrington 0 0-0 0, Jaime Gallagher 0 0-0 0, Suzie Edwards 0 0-0 0, Krysten Hayes 5 2-2 11. Totals – 14 6-8 33.

RIFLE – Kristen Nefferdorf 0 0-0 0, Haley Hubbell 1 0-0 2, Nicole Erpestad 2 2-2 6, Julie McWilliams 4 0-0 10, Renee Laudick 0 0-0 0, Ashley Gavito 5 1-3 11, Krista Wagstrom 3 0-0 6. Totals – 15 3-5 35.

3-Pointers – Hayes 3, McWilliams 2. Fouled Out – None. Technicals – None.

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