New coach, veteran players, high hopes |

New coach, veteran players, high hopes

RIFLE, Colo. – With four returning starters, the only big difference on the Rifle girls basketball team this year is the coach.However, considering Brad Skinner was an assistant for former coach Jack Smith 20 years ago, has coached middle school basketball for close to 20 years and occasionally volunteered to help former head coaches Rick Schmitz and even Smith again last season, Skinner is no stranger to the program. This is just the first time he’ll be in charge of it.

“I am a little nervous, but I am looking forward to it,” Skinner said of adding the word “head” in front of his coach title. “These kids are great. I’ve stepped into a very nice situation. These kids are all hard workers, self-motivated, they like the game so I don’t have to pull teeth to get them to do what they need to do.”With a handful of seniors to help lead the squad, Skinner will be looking to Kristin Guettler, Kaylen Harrison and Billie Blackwell to help. To Skinner, Guettler, a strong post player last season, especially stands out.

“The senior leadership is huge with Kristin Guettler,” he said. “She’s a good leader and athlete.”Outside of his seniors, Skinner has a strong class of juniors to help the Bears compete will Class 4A Western Slope League preseason favorites Moffat County and Glenwood Springs. Point guard Kendall Babler will run the floor for the Bears with help from fellow guard Chelsea Webb and forward Megan McWilliams.

Last season, Rifle finished the season 11-9 overall and had a 8-4 WSL record to give them the third spot in league at the end of the season. The Bears then beat Mesa Ridge 67-61 in the first round of the state playoffs before being eliminated with a 82-51 loss to eventual state champion Mullen.Having coached most of the girls at some point in their basketball careers, Skinner feels comfortable with the roster he’s got and the potential it has. Especially since they proved they know how to win games last season.”We are going to play hard and execute and we’ll let the wins and losses take care of themselves,” Skinner said. “I think we’ll be competitive.”Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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