Rifle’s Church sets scoring record at Regis University
Former Rifle High School basketball standout Chante Church, after a couple of twists and a lot of determination in her college basketball career, has put herself on the map as a Regis University starter — and she boasts a school record 40-point game.
Playing four years for the Lady Bears, including her final season with current Rifle girls head coach Kristy Wallner, Church went on to amass 1,136 career points in the blue, white and gold of Rifle, but from there things were up in the air as to what her next step would be as a basketball player.
Fortunately for Church, the daughter of Dustin and Stacey Church, she ended up enrolling at McCook Community College, a small junior college in Nebraska, where she went on to simply dominate.
In two years at McCook, Church was one of the best pure scorers in the country, finishing up her final season at McCook in 2015-16 by scoring 18.8 points per game, including two games of 30-plus points while adding another 12 games of 20-plus points, earning herself a JUCO Third Team All-America nod while also being named All-Region IX First Team and All-NCCAC First Team. On top of all that, Church was selected to play in the NJCAA Coaches All-Star game and was chosen as the MCC Female Student-Athlete of the Year.
For her two-year career at McCook, Church finished with 1,255 career points, putting her over the 1,000-point mark for the second time in her young basketball career.
All of that success led her to the Division II level with Regis, where she’s been able to acclimate well to tougher competition despite getting off to a slow start — at least on her terms — with the Rangers.
“I was in a bit of a slump with my shooting, so I was spending a lot of time working in the gym with some coaches and some teammates,” Church said. “I had finally figured it out, and at that point the coach told me that I’d be starting my first game against UC-Colorado Springs.”
Getting her first start at the DII level, Church had the game of her life, scoring a career-high 40 points in 33 minutes of action, hitting 7-of-9 three-pointers while shooting 11-for-16 from the field overall to top the previously undefeated UC-Colorado Springs Mountain Lions in a pivotal Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference game.
Church’s career night set a school record for most points in a game by a female player while also putting her in the top 10 all-time in a single-game performance in RMAC league history. Not bad for a small-town athlete.
“I didn’t feel too good in warm-ups about that night’s game because my shot felt off,” Church said. “But once I hit my first shot in the game I just kind of had a great feel for the game. It was just awesome because my teammates were so supportive. They would keep reminding me of how I was doing and really pushing me to go for it that night.”
What made Church’s achievement that night that much more special was the fact that Wallner and the current Lady Bears squad was in attendance. The Rifle girls team just so happened to be in the area playing in a weekend tournament at Aurora, so a stop off at Regis University to see Church make her first career start for the Rangers was an easy decision to make.
‘SHE’S FROM RIFLE!’
“I’ve only ever seen one other player be as locked-in in person like Chante was,” Wallner said. “That was [former NBA point guard] Delonte West when he was at St. Joe’s. He was just able to go 9-for-9 against Xavier back in the early 2000s. Just seeing Chante do that after working so incredibly hard and going through some ups and downs, as far as she experienced in high school and then making the jump from McCook to Regis.
“So for her to be able to do that, and for us to be in the stands that night was just unbelievable. I was really proud of her, but it was really fun to watch my kids see that happen in person. They were chanting ‘She’s from Rifle!’ and keeping track of every three that she hit, so it was really special.”
Following Church’s big night, she was able to bring her former teammates into the Regis locker room to experience a college atmosphere following a win, while also getting the chance to celebrate with familiar faces. On top of that, Church had a massive outpouring of support on social media and through various text messages and phone calls congratulating her on her big night.
“I didn’t even want to touch my phone for the three days after that,” Church said. “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … everything was just going crazy. Everyone from Rifle was reaching out to me saying how proud they were of me, so that was very meaningful to me.”
After Church’s big night, she has become a mainstay as a starter for the Rangers where she’s able to add a significant scoring prowess to the Regis lineup under head coach Molly Marrin.
She might have come from a small town, but she’s leaving a big mark at Regis while setting an example for future Rifle players that hard work can take you anywhere you want to go in life.
Church and the Rangers will return to action at 7 p.m. Dec. 31 against Fort Lewis inside the Regis Fieldhouse.