Patience pays off for Rifle girls hoops squad
Post Independent Staff
PALISADE ” Patience, apparently is more than a virtue.
When, properly applied, as Rifle’s girls displayed in Friday’s 56-32 victory at Palisade, it also creates winning basketball.
“We got a lot more patient at the offensive end,” said Bear coach Rick Schmitz. “We were rushing and forcing things early, then we settled down and ran our offense and got better looks.”
And with better looks at the basket, Rifle’s controlled offense produced 21 points in the second quarter, and turned a two-point first-quarter deficit into a 12-point lead at intermission.
Then it was all smooth-sailing for the Western Slope League-leading Bears, who moved to 5-0 in the WSL (9-3 overall) with the win.
Senior Krista Wagstrom led all scorers with 15 points and held Palisade’s main offensive threat, Kristen Hays, to two field goals. Two other Bears starters ” juniors Renee Laudick and Montana Matthies ” also had strong performances. Both players finished in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively, and combined for 15 rebounds.
A the big key to Rifle’s success this year has been its defense.
After giving up 12 points to Palisade in the first quarter, the Bears permitted just 20 points in the remaining three periods.
“I know that for our team to be successful, if we don’t defend and we don’t rebound with great effort and great intensity, we struggle,” Schmitz said. “We didn’t do that in the first quarter, and (Palisade) took it to us.”
The Bears eased their coach’s concern by taking command in the second quarter.
Rifle never trailed after Laudick’s follow-up basket off Julie McWilliams’ miss with 5 minutes, 7 seconds left in the period. Palisade tied the game on the next possession at 14-all, but failed to mount a serious challenge after that.
In the remaining four-plus minutes prior to intermission, Rifle outscored the Bulldogs 14-5.
PALISADE ” Basketball, when played at its best, is more art than sport.
If that’s the case, the Rifle boys 69-58 loss to Palisade looked like the Mona Lisa at times and a splash of bad colors on a painter’s pallet at others.
The defeat dropped the Bears record to 3-2 in the Class 4A Western Slope League (5-7 overall).
Both teams displayed sparks of brilliance in Friday’s contest, but the beauty the game possessed was stained by personal fouls.
Before the final buzzer sounded, both teams were called for a combined 52 personals and two technical fouls. The violations seemed to hit Rifle harder.
In the fourth quarter, three Bear starters were benched after committing their fifth personal. The loss of personnel halted Rifle’s comeback effort in the second half.
Keyed by a 12-2 run, Rifle rallied from 14 down to draw within one point in the third quarter.
Rifle’s Jim Owens scored eight of his team-high 14 points in the period to narrow the gap to 43-42 with four minutes left.
“We started defending them better,” Rifle coach Chris Lowther said. “Then we missed some free throws and some layups that could have gotten us up a by a couple or four, then they hit some big shots.”
Palisade’s big run started after Owens fouled out with 6:45 left. Up by four at that point, the Bulldogs reeled off the next eight straight points to pull away for good.
Four Palisade starters, led by Ryan Farlow’s 19 points, ended in double figures. Michael Embrey added 17 and Cory Swetnam finished with 13 points.
Bear starters Troy Weiss and Jewell had 12 points each.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.