Paying tribute to teammate, Rifle girls take down Devils |

Paying tribute to teammate, Rifle girls take down Devils

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Ciara Euler shoots from outside the paint in Friday's win over Eagle Valley.

RIFLE, Colorado ” Sporting blue arm bands honoring ailing teammate Quincey Snyder, Rifle’s girls basketball team put on a show that surely made No. 10 proud once she heard about it.

Behind 18 points from Ciara Euler and 15 from speedy guard Makalya Wilkins, the Bears topped visiting Eagle Valley 55-36 on Friday.

Moments after finishing off the Devils, Rifle players and cheerleaders assembled on the court to participate in a chant ” led by Rifle High School teacher Dave Zeigler ” to pay tribute to Snyder, who suffered a spinal cord injury over the holiday break while on family vacation in Mexico. Snyder, now recovering and rehabbing at Craig Hospital in Englewood, suffered the injury while participating in an ocean activity.

The postgame display is just one in a series of things the team’s orchestrated to let Snyder know she’s missed, according to Rifle head coach Stephanie Heald.

“She’s still a really big part of the team,” she said. “All the girls have an armband with her number on it. We still call her, text-message her to let her know she’s a big part of the team.”

And every Rifle player frequents a blog set up to keep the public updated on Snyder’s progress ”

“We go and comment,” Euler relayed. “She reads ’em and stuff.”

The Bears have done plenty to make Snyder proud in her absence, winning their last three games to improve to 8-3 overall and 3-0 in the 4A Western Slope League.

On Friday, Rifle turned up the heat defensively in the second half to surge to the win. Using a stifling press, the Bears held the Devils to just 15 second-half points, including just five in the fourth quarter.

The defense fed the transition game and swayed the game’s tempo in the quick-legged Bears’ favor. It’s a formula they’ve used to their advantage with frequency this season.

“That’s what’s got us past in these games, and it’s usually in the second half,” Heald said. “The other team gets tired and we keep going at it.”

On top of Euler’s 18 and Wilkins’ 15, Cortney Cordova scored 12 points and Sandy Samson had 10 for the Bears. Cordova added five assists and six steals. Racheal Keithley and Euler finished with six rebounds apiece.

Yvette Parra led Eagle Valley (3-9 overall, 1-3 in the 4A WSL) with nine points, followed by Jamie Bair with seven.

Stop scoring and you won’t win. That’s the crux of what Eagle Valley coach Pat Gabriel had to say following his team’s 61-54 boys basketball loss at Rifle on Friday.

Gabriel’s Devils put the ball in the basket enough in the first half, taking a 30-26 lead into the break.

But Rifle stepped up its defense ” and offense ” in the second half, changing up their style of press and converting transition buckets in droves.

Behind 11 points from Tyler Rust and six points from Eric Laudick, the Bears outscored Eagle Valley 25-16 in a pivotal third quarter and never looked back.

Putting a ball-control offense to use in the fourth, Rifle iced the game by winding out the clock and holding the Devils to just eight points.

“We stopped scoring,” Gabriel said, flatly. “When you don’t score, you don’t win in this game.”

Rust led Rifle with a game-high 32 points. He found himself engaged in a scoring battle with Eagle Valley’s Cesar Castillo, whose seven 3-pointers helped him a team-high 27 points.

Rust enjoyed the challenge.

“He’s a good player,” the junior said of Castillo. “It was fun. Nerve-wracking, but fun.”

Laudick finished with 19 points for the Bears, now 5-7 overall and 2-1 in the 4A WSL.

Eagle Valley, now 2-11 overall and 0-4 in league, had eight points and six blocks from Devil big man Zach Ramsay.

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