Rams, Bears split matchups on Day 1 of Brenda Patch Tourney
CARBONDALE — Defense was the name of the game Friday on Day 1 of the Brenda Patch Tournament at Roaring Fork High School for the Rams’ girls basketball team and the Rifle Bears’ girls basketball team as both the Rams and Bears picked up season-opening wins. But it was a different story for the Roaring Fork and Rifle boys as both teams dropped their first games of the season behind stagnant offenses against tough zones in the 31st edition of the Brenda Patch Tournament.
Opening the season up for the second time under head coach Jade Bath, the Roaring Fork girls relied on suffocating defense led by sophomore guard Emily Broadhurst and junior guard Logan Erickson, while also getting impressive performances offensively from Broadhurst and junior center Gabby Santana to roll to a season-opening 50-29 win over the visiting Steamboat Springs Sailors.
“Honestly, that’s the best I’ve seen them play since I took over here,” Bath said following the 21-point win. “We only had a few practices and scrimmages coming into the game, so I was a little nervous prior to the game not knowing what to expect. I told the girls that they shocked me and that I was proud of them, but now we know what we’re capable of, so we have to do that every night and build off of it.”
Against the Sailors, the Rams really took off on both ends of the floor midway through the first quarter following a steal and a layup from Broadhurst to break a 4-4 tie. Following Broadhurst’s coast-to-coast layup off the turnover, the Rams went on an 11- 3 run to close the first quarter as Santana started to assert herself in the paint, hitting three tough shots — including two putback layups — to give the Rams a 17-7 lead after one quarter of play.
Riding the wave of momentum to close the first half, the Rams continued to roll in the second quarter as Broadhurst got two tough shots in the paint to fall before hitting two free throws, while Erickson and sophomore Caroline Wisroth cracked the scoring sheet, giving the Rams another crisp quarter and outscoring Steamboat 11-2 in the second to take a 28-9 lead into the break.
“We knew that we had to work off our defense tonight,” Broadhurst said. “To get us going offensively, we have to get into the fast break and we were able to start that tonight through our defense. We’re a work in progress offensively with our shooting, but we know we can turn to defense to help us compete.”
As the defense continued to up the pressure in the second half, the Rams dominated the offensive glass against the Sailors as Santana and Wisroth, as well as junior Kendall Bernot, senior Megan Nieslanik, junior Natasha Kotz and sophomore Isabella Hernandez, all chipped in on the offensive boards to give the Rams second-chance points in a hard-fought second half.
Coming out of the break, Santana hit two tough putback shots in the paint before Wisroth converted on a jumper from the wing to give Roaring Fork a 34-11 lead. Steamboat responded with a three-pointer, but a layup from Broadhurst in transition and a free throw from Wisroth sent the Rams into the fourth quarter with a 37-16 advantage over the Sailors.
With the game seemingly in hand, Roaring Fork appeared to back off slightly defensively, but the offense continued to click as Santana stretched the Rams’ lead to 42-16 early in the fourth off of two putbacks and a free throw. A quick 5-0 run by Steamboat made it 42-21, but a jumper by Bernot stopped the Sailors’ brief run. Steamboat refused to go away late as the Sailors mounted another quick run — this time 6-0 — but the Rams closed the game with four straight points as Broadhurst hit a tough shot in traffic and then split a pair of free throws before Wisroth split her own pair of free throws, allowing the Rams to cap off the win to open the Brenda Patch Tournament.
Feeling good after the win, Roaring Fork will now turn its attention to Rifle, who they will match up with Saturday at 4 p.m. in the final girl’s game of the tournament.
“They’re a powerhouse, and it’s not just Walters; they’re balanced, too,” Bath said. “But I think if we can play like we did [against Steamboat] and be that aggressive and physical on defense, we can hang with anybody. [Saturday’s] going to be a really big test for us; I wish we could get going right now.”
RIFLE 55, DURANGO 22
After a few early-game jitters, the Rifle Bears’ girls basketball team exploded offensively and defensively to roll to a 33-point win over the Durango Demons on Day 1 of the Brenda Patch Tournament in Carbondale.
Despite the early nervousness and turnovers, Rifle raced out to a 6-0 lead as senior Peyton Caldwell drilled a jumper from the wing before senior Karly Manupella and junior Masi Smith hit tough shots to settle the Bears into the game. From there, Rifle never looked back as the Demons had no answer for the Bears’ transition game offensively and physical, suffocating zone defense on the day.
“I think some of the slow start was a little bit of nerves and catching the ball cleanly,” Rifle head coach Kristy Wallner said. “Peyton kind of rolled out to the corner and hit a long jumper, and that kind of let the nerves burn off. From there, we kind of started rolling. Defensively, we were very good. There’s still a couple of things we’re going to address and improve on as we get into game-shape, as well as communication issues that resulted in some open looks. But they scored 22 points, so I was really happy with the defensive effort.”
Following Rifle’s quick 6-0 run to start the game, a bucket from Durango got the Demons on the board briefly, but the Bears quickly turned it on offensively as Smith hit two big shots in the lane — one of which as a sky hook from just inside the free throw line. Then, standout senior guard and Regis University commit Elly Walters closed the quarter on a personal 8-0 run behind two three-pointers, giving the Bears an insurmountable 20-5 lead after one quarter of play.
Things slowed down quite a bit in the second quarter as the two teams combined for just 13 points, but it was all Rifle at the half with a 28-9 lead as the Demons couldn’t come up with an answer for Smith and Caldwell in the paint at both ends of the floor, and Walters continued to direct the offense with precision.
Holding the 19-point halftime lead, Rifle caught fire in the third quarter as the Bears outscored the Demons 16-6 to take a 44-15 lead after three quarters of play. Karly Manupella got going offensively, hitting four free throws and one big layup in the quarter, while also finding her twin sister, Katy, in the corner for a three-pointer, igniting the Rifle bench.
With the game all but over to start the fourth, the Bears turned to a number of young backups, but Smith stayed in the game in the paint, hitting two tough shots again to turn in a career performance for the Bears and capping off the win with a career-high 16 points. Walters finished with a quiet 17 points in the lopsided win.
“Masi Smith was phenomenal, and it wasn’t just on the offensive side,” Wallner said following the season-opening win. “On the defensive side, her activity and athleticism attacking the rebounds was great; I’m thrilled with Masi. She’s worked hard and has bought into what we’re teaching here with the program. I hope she continues to work hard and improve because I think there’s still another level for her to get to.”
Caldwell and Karly Manupella added eight points each for the Bears, while Katy Manupella drilled two three-pointers to finish with six points in the win.
“This group, the way they practice and work so hard, it all comes from them internally,” Wallner said. “The team chemistry is great and they’re happy for one another when someone succeeds; you can just see it when these girls play. I’ve never quite had a group like this with the chemistry and how hard they work.”
Rifle will square off with Roaring Fork Saturday at 4 p.m.
PONDEROSA 71, RIFLE 35
Taking on a senior-laden team Friday afternoon in the Brenda Patch Tournament at Roaring Fork High School, the young Rifle Bears struggled at both ends of the floor in the first showing under new head coach Kyle Daniell, dropping a tough 71-35 decision to the Ponderosa Mustangs to start the 2017-18 season.
Facing off against the Mustangs’ tough zone defense, Rifle struggled to score in the first half, relying on a number of looks from beyond the arc to score just 11 first-half points against the Mustangs, who turned to seniors Connor Shaw and Josh Caleb on the offensive end to pace the attack to a 39-11 lead at the half.
Rifle senior Jacob Seeman got the Bears on the board in the first quarter with a tough-angled three-pointer from the right corner, but the Bears found themselves in an 18-3 hole after just eight minutes of play. As Ponderosa continued to knock down three-pointers — five in total in the first half — Rifle continued to try to penetrate the Mustangs’ zone to little success.
Senior Evan Gray muscled his way into the paint midway through the second quarter for a tough layup over Shaw while drawing the foul, but the senior missed the ensuing free throw. Moments later Rifle junior point guard JD Martinez slipped his way through the zone for a mid-range jumper, but the Bears couldn’t consistently find those gaps in the Mustangs’ defense on the day.
Martinez and Gray closed the half with buckets for the Bears, but Shaw and Caleb continued to roll in the second half, taking a 56-28 lead after three quarters of play despite Martinez catching fire for 13 points in the third for the Bears. With the game well in hand, Ponderosa continued to cruise in the fourth quarter, outscoring Rifle 13-7 for the 71-35 win.
Despite the tough showing, the Bears have some promising players on the roster, starting with Martinez, who went for a team-high 21 points. Gray finished with three points for the Bears, while senior Blake Swasey and sophomore Tanner Cotner added two points each.
Rifle will take on the Roaring Fork boys Saturday evening in the tournament finale at 5:30 p.m.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS 47, ROARING FORK 36
In the nightcap of Day 1 in the Brenda Patch Tournament, the visiting Steamboat Springs Sailors rallied back from a 6-point first-quarter deficit to pick up a season-opening 11-point win over the Roaring Fork Rams’ boys basketball team Friday night in Carbondale.
After a fast start on the night by senior forward Justin Thompson to give the Rams a 6-0 lead two minutes into the game, the Rams and Sailors battled throughout the rest of the first quarter with the Rams holding a slim 12-10 lead thanks to six points from Thompson and four points from junior Joe Salinas.
Following the fast-paced first quarter, the game changed dramatically as standout Steamboat junior guard Mac Riniker came off the bench to start the second quarter and immediately sparked the Sailors at both ends of the floor, playing a large role in the 10-0 run to start the second quarter, taking a 19-12 lead over the Rams on their home floor.
A three-pointer from Salinas stopped the Steamboat run briefly, but Riniker took over from there, hitting a transition jumper before then stealing an errant Roaring Fork pace and racing the other way for the layup. A three-pointer from Steamboat’s Ethan Plyes gave the Sailors a 29-18 lead before Roaring Fork’s Aidan Sloan hit a tough shot in traffic, sending the two teams into the half with the Sailors holding a 29-20 lead.
Coming out of the break looking to get back on track offensively, the Rams roaring back as senior forward Irving Anchondo knocked down a jumper and a three-pointer to pull the Rams to within four points at 31-27 midway through the third quarter. Following a jumper from Steamboat senior Jake Berry, the Rams closed the quarter on a 3-0 run to head into the fourth quarter trailing 33-30.
But the fourth quarter was all Steamboat as Riniker went off for nine points of his own, outscoring the Rams on his own in the quarter to lead the Sailors to the win on the road.
Riniker finished with 20 points for Steamboat, while Plyes added seven points for the Sailors. Thompson finished with 16 points for the Rams, while Salinas added 10 points.
The Rams will match up with the Rifle Bears in the tournament finale Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m.