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Rifle girls overcome foul trouble to net win

RIFLE ” Despite giving Palisade 44 opportunities at the free-throw line ” resulting in 25 Bulldog points ” the Rifle girls basketball team managed to beat Palisade 60-44 Friday night.

Rifle had 15 personal fouls at the end of the first half and was forced to sit multiple starters who got into foul trouble.

“It was a little ragged at times, but I thought they played under control when we got into foul trouble,” Rifle head coach Jack Smith said. “That can make a big difference sometimes when you get into foul trouble and you have to put people on the bench, but I thought they did a good job.”



Rifle started the contest strong, putting together a 10-0 run in the middle of the first quarter and leading 20-12 at the end of the frame.

Then Palisade went on a streak of its own. Over the next 10 minutes, the Bulldogs did not make a single shot from the field. They stayed in the game, however, by hitting 12 free throws.



Abby Diers finally hit a field goal with 5:52 left in the third quarter, then followed with another to make the score 36-29 Rifle.

But that’s when the Bears took hold of the game.

Alissa Skinner picked off a Palisade pass and found Kristin Guettler for an easy two points. On the next play, the last of the quarter, Skinner stole another pass and got the ball into the hands of Kendall Babler, who buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Rifle carried its momentum into the fourth quarter and sealed the deal by scoring six points in the final two minutes and holding Palisade scoreless.

Three Bears hit double digits in scoring with Guettler totaling 16, Babler finishing with 12 and Megan McWilliams scoring 11.

“Kristin (Guettler) was good in there, Megan had a hell of a game and Kendall (Babler) had one of her best games ” I kept her in there the whole time,” Smith said.

Playing all 40 minutes, Babler was the star of the night, adding seven assists, three steals and two rebounds to her 12 points. She also shot 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.

“I kinda got tired in the fourth quarter, but when the game’s intense and you’re into it ” you don’t really think about it and you just keep going,” Babler said. “Whoever plays the best stays on the floor ” I guess I stepped up and did that.”

The Bears improve to 3-1 in the Western Slope League and 6-6 overall. Palisade dropped to 2-2 in the WSL and 7-2 overall. After falling in a close game to Glenwood Springs on Tuesday, Babler said this win helps get the Bears back on track.

“We are ready to play Glenwood again to get back at them,” Babler said. “This win helps get our confidence back.”

Up next for Rifle is Delta at 4 p.m. today.

Stuart Stapleton hit five 3-pointers, went 5-of-5 from the free-throw line and totaled 30 points. But it just wasn’t enough.

Palisade made 10-of-11 free throws in the final quarter, on its way to a 70-63 victory over Rifle Friday night.

Rifle started the game with a bang, hitting three 3-pointers in the first three minutes. The Bears came out to a quick 13-3 lead, but Palisade kept fighting throughout the first half. The lead switched from team to team, but at the end of the first half, Rifle led 34-33.

The shots just didn’t fall for Rifle in the final two quarters. Palisade took advantage, scoring the first six points of the quarter and owning a 51-48 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The game remained close until the final minute when Bulldog Mark Douglas hit two free throws to give Palisade a 66-63 lead. From then on, Rifle couldn’t buy a shot.

The Bears missed four 3-pointers and two field-goal attempts in the last 60 seconds, while the Bulldogs went 4-of-4 from the free-throw line to put the game out of reach.

The Bears fall to 1-3 in the Western Slope League and 2-9 overall. Palisade moves to 3-1 in the WSL and 5-6 overall.

Rifle faces Delta, when it hosts the Panthers at 5:30 p.m. today.


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