Rifle Middle School Cubs win PEG Tournament
RIFLE, Colorado ” It has been a season of surprises for the eighth-grade boys basketball team at Rifle Middle School. Thankfully, they were pleasant surprises as they ended their season with a 6-3 record.
The Rifle Cubs won the PEG Tournament on Saturday by beating the St John Panthers 30-24.
The fourth-seeded Rifle Cubs went into the tournament at Carbondale Middle School and beat the undefeated Carbondale Wolverines 37-22 on Thursday.
The first-seeded Wolverines had to deal with sharp-shooting of the Cubs when they shot 64 percent from the free-throw line and nailed four of their three-point shots.
Earlier in the season, Carbondale beat the Cubs 39-24, but the undefeated Carbondale team was no match for Rifle in the second round of the tournament.
“During the Carbondale game we shot well from the outside. We shoot three-pointers well,” head coach Jim Boone said. “We also did a really good job of rebounding. We had 18 rebounds in that game and five offensive rebounds against a much larger Carbondale team.”
Power forward Zach Walters and point guard Jake Statler led the Cubs with eight points each, Adam Rice had seven, and Clayton Cahill and Aaron Wagler each had five points.
After beating Carbondale, Rifle traveled back to Carbondale on Saturday to take on the second-seeded St John Panthers. The Cubs got off to a quick start, and at the end of the first half Rifle had a 24-13 lead.
After halftime the Panthers made some adjustments, challenging the Rifle team by coming within five points, but in the end it was Rifle winning with a final score of 30-24.
Wagler and Statler, again, led the team with nine points each, Triston Quigley had seven and Cahill had four.
“Beating the number one-seeded team, Carbondale, was definitely a highlight of the season,” swingman Rice said. “Early in the season we tried to play like we did as seventh-graders and it didn’t work. We had to learn how to play differently.”
“We were the fourth-seeded team with a 3-3 season record, and we upset the first- and second-seeded teams. Every coach likes to see their team peak and come together at the end of the season,” Boone said.
“At the end of the season this year we had gained more confidence with our offense, and it made a big difference,” Statler said. “We also learned to become more focused in our games.”
Boone said the Cubs’ strength this season was their ability to play as a team unit and their outside shooting.
At the start of the year, the boys needed to learn how to manage the clock and control the tempo of the game. It looks as if they did.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.