New-look Bears set for basketball season |

New-look Bears set for basketball season

Phil Sandoval

There will be a different look to Rifle’s boys’ basketball team this year.

The 2002-03 Bears feature a revamped lineup, a new offense, and a new coach on the bench.

First-year coach Chris Lowther has the task of replacing four starters lost to graduation from last year’s 17-1 club, which also won the Class 4A Western Slope League title.

And while the Bears are appreciably smaller – they have no one on the roster taller than 6 feet, 6 inches, Lowther feels he has a strong foundation to work with.

“Our quickness is one of our assets,” Lowther pointed out. “We’ll use that in place of the lack of size that we have.”

All five of Rifle’s projected starters have varsity experience.

“As a new coach, I’m trying to make us as successful as we can with the players we have,” Lowther explained.

“We have a team that’s filled with a lot of guys that do other things,” he said, pointing out three players – Troy Weiss, Jason Enewold and Thad Porter – also started on Rifle’s football team.

“They have been concentrating on football, and I want them do to that, but that makes it hard to have tremendous offensive skills” due to the lack of offseason time on the court.

Senior Ryan Shideler is Rifle’s only returning starter and will see plenty of time at center.

It’s a role Shideler has gotten used to.

Last season, he had to shift to the post position due to 7-footer Carl Day’s penchant for getting into early foul trouble.

Porter and Weiss both measure in at 6-foot-3 and have practiced at forward and guard.

Enewold (6-2) and junior Jim Owens will be used primarily at guard.

Lowther said he has not settled on his starting lineup. He was waiting to see what developed at practice and after Monday’s scrimmage with Grand Valley and Olathe in Parachute.

After the scrimmage, Lowther also has the luxury of a few more practice days before making a final decision. Rifle is the last of the area boys teams to start its season.

The Bears open the 2002-03 season on Dec. 10 at home with Basalt, and continue play that weekend at the annual two-day Black Canyon Tournament at Montrose High School.

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