Rifle girls reaching for new heights in 2002-03 | PostIndependent.com

Rifle girls reaching for new heights in 2002-03

Phil Sandoval

Leadership and defense.

Those are the strengths of a Bear team looking to improve on last season’s 12-11 overall record.

Rifle, which opens its girls’ high school basketball season tonight at home against Class 3A Basalt at 7:30 p.m., finished the regular season in a second-place tie with Glenwood Springs in the Western Slope League standings with identical 9-3 conference marks.

In the postseason, the Bears finished fourth in the district tournament and advanced to the 4A state playoffs before falling to Evergreen in the first round.

Rick Schmitz begins his 16th year as Rifle’s head coach with four returning starters from the 2002-03 team.

And, unlike most Bear teams of the past, Schmitz has some height with which to work.

Junior Krista Wagstrom, a first-team all-league selection in volleyball, and a honorable mention choice on last year’s All-WSL basketball team, is 5-foot-11.

She will be joined in the frontcourt by Julie McWilliams, a 5-10 junior and 5-8 senior Ashley Gavito.

Gavito, a first-team, all-league pick, led the 2001-02 Bears in scoring with a 13 point-per-game average.

Junior Nicole Erpstead will start at guard. Others in the running for a starting spot include sophomores Kristen Neffendorf and Jessica Stilson, and senior Brooke St. Pierre.

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