Rifle rally comes up short in 42-40 defeat
Post Independent Staff
RIFLE ” A couple of games from now, Rifle’s Travis Jensen will probably make a shot similar to the one he missed Thursday night. But the nonleague contest against Grand Junction Central was not a typical prep basketball game.
First games back off the holiday break are usually pretty rough around the edges, and this one filled the bill.
Overall, Grand Junction Central’s 42-40 win wasn’t pretty, clean or particularly well-played, but it kept everyone on the edge of their seat until the final buzzer sounded.
Central’s Geo Woolsey hit two free throws with 1 minute, 28 seconds left to give the Warriors a 40-39 lead, and, when Kiel Roling upped the Warriors’ lead to three with 36 seconds left after two more successful free throws, it appeared Central had the game in hand.
A hustling Jim Owens was fouled by Central’s Ray Cruz while going for a loose ball. The Rifle senior hit one-of-two from the stripe, reducing the Warrior margin down to two with eight seconds left.
In those remaining eight seconds Central had a chance to up its lead from the free-throw line, but it didn’t happen.
Jeremy Young’s missed free throw set the wheels in motion for Rifle to, at the worst, force overtime, which would have redeemed the Bears after seeing a nine-point lead they built at the start of the fourth quarter melt away to nothing after Woolsey’s free throws.
Jensen had a good look, but his shot fell short.
It was that kind of night for Rifle (2-4). The Bears looked great in certain stretches and bad in others.
Rifle’s best moments came in the third quarter when it outscored Central 19-11. But the Bears struggled in the fourth period when they hit one only field goal (Owens for the nine-point lead) and scored just four points against Central’s 13.
The Warriors’ Zach Hazelhurst led all scorers with 14 points. Owens and Central’s Matt Key scored 12 each.
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Oregon’s Laurenne Ross and New Castle’s Alice McKennis Duran both announced their retirement in recent days and celebrated together during Saturday’s downhill. McKennis Duran is a local namesake who grew up skiing at Sunlight in Glenwood and formerly trained with the AVSC.