Rifle girls roll to 30-point win; boys win in OT
There doesn’t seem to be much wrong with the Rifle Bears that can’t be immediately fixed by what’s right with the Rifle Bears.
Keeping their league-leading mark unblemished, the Rifle girls’ basketball team stayed steady on the offensive end of the court and played a stingy brand of defense to easily dispatch the Summit Tigers 62-32 Thursday night inside Jack Smith Gymnasium at Rifle High School.
With senior guard Elly Walters driving the bus, the Bears featured a talented group of passengers who jumped on the visiting Tigers early and often to the tune of a 23-5 lead after the first quarter of play.
Junior Masi Smith and senior Peyton Caldwell accounted for the first eight points of the game for Rifle as Smith hit a driving right-handed shot and Caldwell lofted a jumper from the right elbow that found the bottom of the net.
Summit senior guard Cassidy Bargell hit a long jumper to get the Tigers on the board, but Rifle’s Karly Manuppella hit a 3-pointer from the left side of the court and Walters got into the act with a left-handed scoring drive to make the count 13-3. Katy Manuppella and sophomore Taylor Davis scored baskets for the Bears and when Caldwell flew down the lane for a rebound and a putback, Rifle was off to the races.
Katy Manuppella hit a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter of play to put the score at 32-10, and the reserves then began to trickle onto the court for the Bears.
To start the second half, Walters swished a 3-pointer, Smith scored inside and Karly Manuppella hit two baskets — the latter coming off a nice bounce feed on the fast break from Walters. Davis and sophomore Natalie Schauster also contributed third-quarter baskets for the Bears.
Reserves took over the fourth quarter for Rifle as sophomores Delaney Phillips and April Quinones scored buckets for the Bears, as did freshman Mackenzie Elizardo.
Obviously pleased with how her starters fared in building a big lead for the home team, Rifle head coach Kristy Wallner was also gushing about the play of her bench through most of the second half.
“I was really pleased with how the young kids came in and not only competed, but maintained our level of expectations, especially on the defensive end,” Wallner said. “I’m most impressed by our overall team chemistry and how the older kids lead and support everyone on the team.”
The balanced Rifle scoring ledger for the evening read as follows: Smith 10 points, Karly Manuppella 9 points, Caldwell and Katy Manuppella 8 points and Walters with 7 points.
Rifle (11-1, 4-0 WSL) will head up north to Craig on Friday to take on the Moffat County Bulldogs in a nonconference tilt.
Rifle 74, Summit 72 OT
A seesaw first half of play saw the Rifle Bears start to gain some separation near the end of the first quarter, taking a 21-15 lead after 8 minutes, and a 34-24 advantage at intermission only to have to claw their way back from a fourth quarter deficit to garner their first Western Slope League victory with a thrilling 74-72 overtime win at home against Summit.
The big Rifle run in the late stages of the initial quarter was keyed by a basket and a 3-pointer by junior guard Omar Chavez and an inside basket by senior post player Evan Gray. Summit would battle back with a 3-pointer from senior guard Turner McDonald, but senior big man Blake Swasey would notch a couple of scores in the painted area to keep the Tigers at bay.
The second half started with a drive and score by Rifle junior Darien Church to make it 36-24, but Summit would answer with a basket and a free throw from Chance Jacobs to keep the Bears from getting too comfortable. A 3-pointer from Summit guard Wyatt Buller and a full-court press defense that started to bother the Bears’ ball handlers was a source of worry as Rifle coach Kyle Daniell was forced to use a timeout with his team clinging to a 37-35 lead at the 6:09 mark of the third.
Following the stoppage in play, Swasey hit inside but Summit countered with another 3-pointer from Buller, and the Bears seemed to be hearing footsteps.
Looking to their size advantage, Rifle tried to pound the ball inside to Swasey and Gray, but Buller — who had caught fire from the outside — gave Summit a 43-39 lead with another trey at 3:46 of the third to help them take a 54-49 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Slowly inching their way back, Rifle’s big play of the final stanza was made by junior Joel Lopez, who blocked a Summit shot in the lane and scored at the other end of the court to tie the game at 60-60 with 1:33 left in the game. It was Lopez again who came to the rescue as he hit a mid-range shot at the buzzer to send the game to an extra period after the Tigers had taken a two-point advantage.
Sophomore Treyson Lujan and Church scored to give Rifle a 66-62 advantage they would never relinquish in overtime. Garrett Robinson hit a basket and a free throw, which was just enough to give Rifle the win as a last ditch shot by Summit’s McDonald just rolled off the rim as time expired on the Tigers.
Rifle will face Moffat County in Craig on Friday night.