Rifle squeaks by Skiers for PEG title
CARBONDALE – Saturday’s eighth-grade PEG League boys basketball tournament proved one thing: Margins of victory in regular-season games don’t mean very much.The Rifle Cubs, undefeated and the tournament’s No. 1 seed, were expected to win the post-season, single-elimination tournament. What wasn’t expected was Rifle’s narrow margin of victory, 58-55.A tough Aspen club, which fell to Rifle in the regular season, came within a point and 17 seconds of pulling off the biggest upset of the year in area middle school athletics.Matt Holmes, of the Skiers, hit a short field goal on an inbounds pass, then hit a free throw after being fouled by Rifle’s Tyrel Leonard to cut Rifle’s four point lead to 56-55 at that point.Then Scott Rust came to the rescue.As one of the Cubs’ main offensive weapons, Rust was given extra defensive attention by Aspen throughout the championship game. The defensive pressure limited Rust to seven points at the time he stepped to the free throw line with 14 seconds left.
With the game still in question, Rust soothed the big throng of Cubs supporters who traveled to Carbondale Middle School, by hitting both shots.”Aspen did a great job,” said Rifle coach Jim Boone. “They were very well prepared.”Still, focusing on Rust with a collapsing box-and-one defense created opportunities for other members of the Cubs to step forward.Andy Smedra took that chance, then made Aspen pay for leaving him alone.He scored all eight of his second-quarter points in Rifle’s 12-0 scoring run, including the final basket of the first half, to give the Cubs a 33-24 lead at intermission.Smedra ended with a game-high 23 points.
“I was proud of Andy,” Boone said. “He rose to the occasion.” Possibly, Smedra’s role as Rifle’s quarterback on the Cubs football team had something to do with his cool under pressure.”He’s my calmest player on the floor,” Boone said. “I think he gets that from quarterbacking our football team. Andy’s used to keeping his head.”Smedra added only two points to his total in the third quarter. But the Cubs appeared to have control with a 16-point lead entering the period’s final minute.Aspen scored two baskets prior to the buzzer, then went on a 9-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to whittle Rifle’s lead to four before Rust raised the Cubs’ lead to 50-43 by connecting on a 3-pointer.An exchange of baskets from both teams left Rifle up by six with 1:12 remaining. Baskets from Aspen’s Nicky Fuller and Holmes (who led the Skiers with 12 points) reduced the lead to 54-52.
Smedra raised the margin to four with 21 seconds left after hitting two free throws after an Aspen personal foul to set up the final dramatics.Defensive play earns Glenwood third place The Glenwood Springs Cougars held St John from Parachute to single digits in all four quarters, resulting in a 33-22 victory in the third place game of Saturday’s post-season PEG League tournament.Russell Collins had a game-leading 16 points, which included four 3-point field goals in the contest. The next individual highest scorer on either team had six points.Glenwood put the Panthers in an immediate hole when they outscored their opponents 15-5 in the first quarter. The Cougars kept up their defensive pressure when both teams took the floor in the second period.Glenwood held the Panthers to four points, one of two times they would accomplish that feat in a six-minute quarter, and took a 25-9 lead at intermission.
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Six members of the Glenwood Springers Track and Field Club traveled to Aurora July 10-11 to compete in the Colorado State Junior Olympic Meet with coach Anne Swanson.