Mustangs hold on down stretch, oust Rifle girls
MULLEN 31, RIFLE 21
RIFLE (21) — Elly Walters 3 9-10 16, Kenia Chavez 0 0-2 0, Reece Hoffmeister 0 0-0 0, Karly Manupella 0 0-0 0, Tori Pressler 0 0-0 0, Peyton Caldwell 0 0-0 0, Whitney Vance 0 0-0 0, Samantha Hinkle 2 1-2 5, Jessie Pressler 0 0-0 0. Totals 5 10-12 21.
MULLEN (31) — Emily Dryden 3 1-2 8, Madeline Sladovnik 3 2-4 8, Sydney Congdon 1 1-2 4, Tori Galvin 0 3-5 3, Jaden Congdon 2 0-2 5, Ryleigh Akridge 1 0-0 3, Noelle Van Horn 0 0-2 0. Gabby Garcia 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 7-15 31.
Rifle 3 10 4 4 — 21
Mullen 7 4 12 8 — 31
3-point Goals: Rifle 1 (Walters), Mullen 3 (J. Congdon, S. Congdon, Dryden). Total Fouls: Rifle 20, Mullen 18. Fouled out: Hoffmeister, J. Congdon, S. Congdon.
PALISADE — Rifle High School’s girls basketball team put itself in a position to win its first-round Class 4A state tournament game on Friday night. Mullen showed it had what it takes to win down the stretch.
In a low-scoring affair where each team struggled offensively, Mullen pulled away from Rifle in the second half and took advantage of the Bears’ shorthanded bench during its 31-21 victory at the Palisade High gym.
“We have a culture that’s established now,” second-year Rifle coach Kristy Wallner said. “We have a great group of kids who are coming back. We’re going to move forward and put the work in this summer to get better and build on this.”
Rifle freshman Elly Walters finished with a game-high 16 points — including a 9-for-10 performance at the free-throw line — to help keep Rifle (13-11 overall) in the game. The Bears actually held a 13-11 lead, forcing the Mustangs into one-shot possessions throughout the first half.
But Mullen, which got a team-high eight points from Emily Dryden and Madeline Sladovnik, rallied and then pulled away in the third quarter.
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Dryden’s lone 3-pointer of the game put the Mustangs ahead 14-13 with 7 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter. After Dryden hit 1-of-2 foul shotss on the next Mullen possession, Samantha Hinkle followed with a layup to knot the score at 15-all.
But a 3-point play from Sladovnik with 5:38 left in the quarter gave the Mustangs the lead for good. They took an eight-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter on a putback from Dryden, and the Bears could come no closer than six the rest of the way.
Hinkle finished with five points. Walters scored 16 of the Bears’ final 19 points of the game.
Mullen (15-9) moved on to the second round of the state tournament to play against host and Western Slope League champion Palisade (22-2), which rallied in the fourth quarter for a 32-29 victory over Green Mountain in the earlier first-round game.
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The teams aren’t vying to one up the other in the rankings or looking to get a leg up in the league standings this fall, but that will hardly make the stakes any less meaningful for Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools when they meet on the football field Friday night.