Rifle’s play good enough for the win
RIFLE — Roger Walters and the Rifle High School boys basketball team don’t care about how attractive their games are. To the Bears, however, their final result against the Glenwood Springs Demons on Thursday was a thing of beauty.
Wyatt Robinson finished with a team-high 13 points to go with a 12-point outing from Trenton Brown, and the Bears took a big lead late in the second half and held on for a 55-41 Class 4A Western Slope League victory over the Demons at the Rifle High gymnasium.
“It was kind of ugly, but we made important shots when we really needed to,” Brown said. “We made the stops that we needed to, also, and we didn’t let their press get to us. We handled it really well.”
The final result for the Bears (9-3 overall, 6-2 league play) means that they ended the month of January really well, too. Rifle, which continues league play on Saturday at Steamboat Springs, finished the month with a 7-1 record and put itself in position to contend for the league championship down the home stretch of the season.
Jared Gambrel finished with a game-high 16 points to go with an eight-point performance from Cameron Horning, who missed the previous two games due to illness. The Demons hit just 10-of-23 shots from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, Glenwood (12-4 overall, 7-3 league) isn’t exactly in a bad spot when it comes to the league-title chase. But unlike the Bears, the Demons have a little time to regroup before continuing league play at Delta next Friday.
“There’s no reason to panic,” Glenwood coach Cory Hitchcock said. “We’re 12-4, and we lost to a very good basketball team tonight. We had our opportunities down the stretch, and we didn’t make the most of them. And when you don’t make the most of your opportunities, this is what happens.”
Those opportunities came thanks to missed free throws, when the Bears had the chance to close the game out early in the fourth quarter. Rifle was 15-of-25 shooting at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, and Glenwood pulled to within single digits three times in the stanza. The Demons, however, could only hit one of their nine attempts from beyond the 3-point line in the fourth quarter.
“We shoot 58 percent from the free throw line, so it’s no wonder they were fouling us,” Rifle coach Roger Walters said. “I thought that we contested their 3s pretty well, because they can shoot it. That’s what makes them such a dangerous team. I thought our kids did a pretty good job of getting to their shooters in the last quarter.”
It was the Bears’ shooting that made a difference in the first half. A transition layup from Brown to cap the scoring in the first quarter not only snapped a 5-all tie, but it sparked a 10-1 run that put Rifle ahead 15-6 with 4 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the first half. Gambrel snapped the run with a jumper for Glenwood to pull the Demons within nine points, but Rifle answered with a 10-4 run that pushed its lead to 25-11 at halftime.
Pete Steckler and Will Gray added six points for Glenwood in the loss. Rifle also got nine points from Tanner Quick and seven from Tanner Rust.
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