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Rifle outguns Roaring Fork

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post Independent
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CARBONDALE, Colorado – After Friday night’s overtime loss to Basalt, Rifle boys basketball coach Chris Lowther said he hoped to see his Bears in close games more often. That way, the coach said, they’d grow accustomed to pressure situations.

Well, he got his wish on Saturday. And a more favorable outcome.

In a game that went down to the wire, Rifle scored a 52-49 win over host Roaring Fork in the Brenda Patch Tournament finale.



“It ended up better,” said Lowther, wearing a look of relief.

Senior guard Tyler Rust played a large role in the win, finishing with 15 points and routinely assisting teammates with well-timed passes.



“It’s no secret he’s the guy we’re trying to do things through,” Lowther said. “He’s always been such an unselfish player. He wants to pass it. He does a good job of doing that. I’m proud of him for always staying that way. He doesn’t, in my opinion, try to do too much.”

Rust did more than enough on Saturday, particularly in the fourth quarter. He went 4-of-5 from the charity stripe in the frame and, off his only miss at the line, secured an offensive rebound that sealed the victory.

With 8.6 seconds remaining and the Bears up 50-47, Rust worked his way to the line for a one-and-one. His shot bounced long off the iron, but within reach of the guard’s outstretched arms. He was fouled as he brought the ball in and then proceeded to drain a pair of freebies.

“I was pretty upset I missed that one, but I got the rebound,” Rust said. “So it was all right.”

Dustin Ross added 16 points for the Bears, who went 1-1 on the weekend. Tyrel Lenard chipped in with seven points.

Roaring Fork junior Jake Strack-Loertscher scored 17 points to lead all scorers. Jake Hawkins contributed 13 and Dalton Handy finished with 10.

“We’re still trying to figure out roles individually,” Rams coach Larry Williams said. “Like I said, it’s a work in progress. We’re getting closer.”

Williams’ squad kept it close throughout, regularly swapping leads with the Bears. In the end, missed opportunities cost Roaring Fork, which wrapped the weekend at 0-2.

“We had our opportunities,” Williams lamented. “We missed a layup and free throws that would have given us the lead. We’ve been stressing the little things and now we just have to practice them over and over and over, until it becomes habit.”

When Rifle’s press is clicking, there’s no stopping the Bears.

Picking pockets seemingly at will and converting layup after layup, Rifle’s girls basketball rolled to a 69-33 win over Roaring Fork in Brenda Patch Tournament action on Saturday.

“That’s our style,” Bears coach Stephanie Heald said. “That’s how we need to play all the time.”

Heald’s squad scored 41 of the game’s first 50 points in polishing off a 2-0 weekend.

Ciara Euler finished with a team-high 18 points for Rifle, which also got 15 points from Cortney Cordova, 12 from Tresa Berner and nine from Makayla Wilkins.

Steals off the press and the easy buckets they created padded those point totals.

“It’s our press we had last year,” said Wilkins, whose Bears improved to 2-1. “It’s the same press. We’ve been doing pretty well in it. Having it back is pretty good.”

For Roaring Fork, which had a nightmarish time breaking that press, it’ll be back to the drawing board.

“We’ve got to work on our ballhandling and we’ve got to work on the press,” Rams coach Nancy Zeigel said. “I saw a lot of good things. We’re still young. In the second half, we came out and a lot of the younger players stepped up. It’s just learning to handle the pressure.”

Alli Zeigel led Roaring Fork (0-2) with nine points. Shea Courtney added eight.

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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