Rifle pulls off upset over Moffat
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CRAIG ” The Bears did it again.
Pulling out clutch shots, taking charges late in the game and grabbing huge rebounds, the Rifle girls basketball team cranked out another on-the-edge-of-your-seat nail-bitter with a 69-61 overtime win over Moffat County in the Class 4A Sweet 16 on Friday.
It was the second game in a row where Rifle has came out on top against a significantly taller team (the Bulldogs have a 6-foot-5 and 5-11 player, while Rifle’s tallest is 5-9).
“My kids don’t even care anymore,” said Rifle head coach Brad Skinner of his team being undersized. “It’s like, bring ’em on. We just keep battling and fighting.”
The Bears and Bulldogs (22-3) were back and forth all game, trading points and keeping the score close. Even against the Tanya Haave Region No. 1 seed and the Western Slope League Champion, it was a situation so normal for Rifle, it almost gave the Bears (18-6) an advantage.
“We have played so many games were it is so close and we’ve finished most of them. I think we’ve only lost two,” said Rifle senior post Kristin Guettler, who scored 17 in the game. “So we knew that we were still in that game and we never let down.”
Rifle took a 45-43 lead into the final quarter, but Moffat put together a 7-0 run to go up 50-45 with 5 minutes left. Alissa Skinner then banked a 3-pointer to shrink the gap. Moffat guard Angie Charchalis answered with a 3 of her own, her sixth of the game, to put the Bulldogs up 56-48 with 1:46 remaining.
After a Billie Blackwell layup and a Guettler free throw, Skinner came back with another 3 to cut Moffat’s lead to two with 29.3 seconds to go.
“It was kind of crazy because it was a really lucky shot and (the bench) said ‘shoot it’ and (I thought) all right, I will,” Skinner said of her shot.
Kendall Babler then drew a foul, and proceeded to the line to make both her shots, tying the game at 56 with 14.6 seconds left in regulation. Moffat center Cayla Maneotis missed a layup and Charchalis missed a jumper as the game went into OT.
Babler started OT with a successful drive, then Chelsea Webb drained two free throws and Guettler added one. Moffat bounced right back with a Charchalis 3 with 2 minutes left to pull within two points.
Rifle then burned a minute off the clock before Megan McWilliams, who finished the game with 21 points and three 3s, went to the line and made two free throws.
Rifle built its lead to 65-61 with 25 seconds to go, when Babler drew an offensive foul, giving the Bears the ball back. Babler then drained two free throws, and when Moffat missed a 3 on its next possession, the junior secured a rebound.
After hitting two more 3s, Babler and the Bears had sealed the win.
“The last three minutes of the game, we executed,” coach Skinner said. “They did exactly what we wanted them to do. They were smart, they made the plays. You can’t ask for any more than that.”
Now, the Bears will face rival Glenwood in the regional championship.
The two teams have played each other three times this season, with Glenwood winning two of three. The two league games between the teams totaled four overtime periods as Rifle won at Glenwood and Glenwood won at Rifle.
“I am so excited to Glenwood, just fighting for a spot in the final four,” Guettler said.
“It’s our rivalry, the fans, in someone else’s gym, new refs. I think it is going to be great,” Alissa Skinner added.
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