Rifle girls edge ‘Horns in hoops season opener
RIFLE – This was one time a 40-minute delay was excusable.
After Rifle’s and Basalt’s freshmen and junior varsity girls teams finished their prolonged games against each other, the school’s varsity teams made up for the wait.
Ashley Gavito scored a career-high 25 points and Renee Laudick added 13 for Class 4A Rifle in a spine-tingling 61-60 non-league victory over Class 3A Basalt Tuesday night.
The outcome wasn’t determined until the final buzzer as the Longhorns’, down by eight with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter, fashioned a late run led by seniors Mariah Mulcahy and Lauren Redfern.
Mulcahy, who hit just 2-of-8 from the field in the first half, finished with 19 points. Redfern had 16.
And this contest didn’t have to wait until the frantic last five minutes for it’s share of nail-biting moments.
The first quarter had eight lead changes before Basalt took charge.
Back-to-back field goals by Makenzie Holmes and Redfern gave the Longhorns a 15-10 lead at the end period.
Basalt’s lead didn’t last long.
Rifle came out after the period break intent on shutting down Basalt’s offense.
And they did.
The Bears gained a eight-point lead at halftime by outscoring Basalt 14-2 in one five-minute stretch, while holding the high-scoring Longhorns to 11 points in the second quarter.
Gavito fueled the Bears run when the senior scored on a offensive rebound at the 5:23 mark.
Laudick, who was left mostly unguarded on the offensive end, scored 12 points in the second quarter and pulled down seven rebounds.
As good as Rifle played, Basalt refused to fold.
The Longhorns kept chipping away at the Bears’ 34-26 halftime lead throughout the third quarter, then took the lead with 1:12 left in the frame.
Mulcahy’s 16-foot jumper gave the Longhorns it’s first lead since the first quarter.
The 45-43 lead lasted 29 seconds.
Gavito, who scored 10 in the period, hit a field goal to knot the game at 45-all. Kristen Neffendorf’s successful free throw after Autumn Caughern’s personal foul put Rifle ahead, then Nicole Erpstead raised the Bears newly-gotten lead to three on a fast-break layup triggered by Gavito’s backcourt pass.
Caughern narrowed the margin down to 50-48 on a three-pointer, the first field goal of the fourth quarter. Rifle scored seven of the next nine points after Caughern’s basket, to pull out by eight again, then withstood a final rush from Basalt for the win.
Both teams resume action next weekend in tournaments on the road.
Rifle plays Grand Junction Tuesday at home, then travels to Montrose High School to play in the Black Canyon Tournament Dec. 13-14.
Basalt is scheduled to participate in the Steamboat Shootout Tournament at Steamboat Springs High School the same weekend.
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