Rifle girls bounce Fruita 56-43
Post Independent Staff
FRUITA ” Maybe putting high schools in classifications is overrated after all.
For the second time in three games, Rifle, a Class 4A school with just over 900 students, knocked off a Class 5A opponent, whose student population starts at 1,400-plus.
And, for a second time in three games, the Rifle girls basketball team knocked off a Southwestern League opponent.
Fruita Monument fell 56-43 and had its two-game winning streak snapped in the process. Last week, Grand Junction Central lost to the Western Slope League Bears.
It’s a nice trend. But, Rifle coach Rick Schmitz wasn’t going to allow himself or his team much time to savor the win.
“I told the team, I was going to enjoy the win for about a half-hour, then I’m going to start focusing on Steamboat (the Bears next opponent) on Friday night.”
Three Bear starters ” Krista Wagstrom, Renee Laudick and Kristen Neffendorf ” all scored in double figures to help Rifle earn its fifth win in eight games.
But, it took Julie McWilliams scoring her only basket of the night along with sub Kristin Guettler’s six points in the third quarter to rejuvenate the slumping Bear offense.
McWilliams 3-pointer with 3 minutes left in the period allowed Rifle to regain a lead they had lost twice earlier in the quarter.
Up 31-30 on the basket, McWilliams’ offensive rebound off a Wagstrom miss allowed the Bears to maintain control and give Guettler a chance at extending Rifle’s slim lead.
“She came off the bench and did a great job offensively and defensively,” said Schmitz. “She hit a three, another bucket and those free throws. That was big.
“That’s what team’s all about,” the coach said. “It picks you up.”
And the Bears lead continued to go up as well.
Laudick added a bucket and Guettler tossed in another free throw for a 38-32 lead at the end of the quarter.
Then Rifle concentrated on playing defense.
In the final eight minutes, the Bears kept the Wildcats offense from scoring a point for 4 minutes, 17 seconds.
Forward Ashley Tripplett scored her only field goal with 5:27 left. As a team the Wildcats didn’t score again until the 1:10 mark.
In between, Rifle’s lead increased from 42-39 after Tripplett’s field goal to 51-39 when Hammond broke the Fruita drought.
Wagstrom, who scored 16 points with 11 rebounds, Laudick, who had 14 and Neffendorf, who finished with 12, all scored in the Bears’ 9-0 scoring run.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.