Rifle girls drop close match to Grand Junction
Grand Junction Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” While it’s never fun, good things do come out of losses.
Stephanie Heald mentioned a number of positives that came out of the Rifle girls’ 49-45 nonleague defeat to Grand Junction Tuesday, which bodes well for the Bears future.
“It was good. But I wish it would have lasted the whole game and not just the fourth quarter,” said the first-year head coach of the team’s effort, which took them within a 3-point shot of forcing overtime in the final minute.
Rifle, who took a three-game win streak into the contest, drops to 3-2 with the loss.
The Bears led by seven once late in the first quarter when an 8-0 run allowed them to hold a one-point lead at the end of the period. A lay-in by Grand Junction guard Fawn Brady on the first possession of the second quarter gave the Tigers the lead for good.
Grand Junction outscored Rifle 15-5 in the stanza to push out to a 24-15 lead at intermission. And the Tigers appeared to be in cruise control after going up 11 into the fourth quarter.
But the combination of Grand Junction’s youth and a scrappy comeback from Rifle made thing interesting up to the final buzzer.
“It’s a thing where young, inexperienced teams are going to lose their composure then regain their composure,” said Tigers head coach Sam Provenza.
While the Tigers went through a three-minute scoreless stretch which could have deeply impacted Grand Junction’s lead, Rifle made just a slight dent, baskets from Quincy Snyder and Sandy Samson cut the margin to 39-32 halfway into the period.
Brady came to Grand Junction’s rescue when she hit a key bucket to stem the Bears’ rally with 3 minutes, 26 seconds to go, the sophomore led the Tigers with 15 points.
But Rifle’s Courtney Cordova, who finished with a game-high 19, whittled an imposing 48-41 Tigers lead with 1:29 left down to three by connecting on three consecutive field goals in as many trips.
“They played better on the press and we got a little jittery at times and we broke down,” Brady said. “Then we got back into our offense and started playing like we knew how.”
Naturally, it took Brady to raise the Tigers out of their funk.
Clinging to a 48-45 lead with 18 seconds left Brady calmed everyone on the Tigers’ bench when she drained home the second of two free throws after a Sandy Samson foul to seal the contest.
“They gutted it out and got back into it,” Heald said. “It was amazing to watch their defense. If we could have play defense like that the whole time, I think we could have had them.”
Geoff Baldwin and Everett Robinson took turns at controlling the offense in a rare rout by the Tigers, who’ll take a few days off before traveling to Class 4A Battle Mountain on Saturday to wrap-up the pre-holiday break portion of their schedule.
Grand Junction (4-3) ripped out to a 18-5 lead at the end of first quarter to make matters easy. Baldwin, who finished with a game-high 25 points, scored 12 in the first half.
Up 34-14 at intermission, Robinson took charge in the latter two periods, pumping home 16 of the 21 points the senior forward had in the contest. Rifle, who travels to Montrose this weekend for its annual appearance in the Black Canyon Tournament were led by Tyler Rust with 18 points and Eric Laudick, who added 13.
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