Rusty Rifle falls in opener vs GJ Central |

Rusty Rifle falls in opener vs GJ Central

Phil Sandoval
Grand Junction Correspondent
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado ” First-quarter jitters can make or break a basketball team’s will.

Grand Junction Central put that theory into motion by reversing its way out of a poor opening period with a 9-0 second-quarter run to break free from pesky Rifle, which had tied the game at 10 at the end of the first stanza.

Amy Kame scored four of her game-high 35 points in that two-minute span where Central took a permanent lead, then outscored the host Bears in all three remaining quarters for a 75-48 win.

A talk by head coach Todd Dixon between the first and second periods lifted the Warriors from their early malaise.

“I told them not to worry about missing layups. That will come,” the coach said. “I said let’s get a little bit looser and stop worrying about being motivated by the fear of this thing.”

Relaxed by Dixon’s words, the Warriors came out a different team.

“I told them just go out and play, and they did a great job,” Dixon said.

Stunned by Central’s ability to put points on the scoreboard quickly, Rifle sunk into an offensive funk that lasted most of the period.

“In that stretch, we kind of got down on ourselves,” said first-year Bears coach Stephanie Heald. “We didn’t know what to do at that time. We just got frustrated. We couldn’t wait to halftime to talk about it.”

Poor shooting and ball possession plagued the Bears in the first half.

In the first 16 minutes, Rifle went 7-of-17 from the floor and turned the ball over 20 times.

The result: a 31-11 Central run in the second quarter. At one point the Warriors led by 22 points, before Makayla Wilkins hit Rifle’s third basket of the period with 55 seconds left in the half.

Kame, who totaled 18 in the first two quarters, scored 13 of Central’s 16 points in the third stanza to put the game away.

The play of the Warrior junior earned kudos from Heald.

“Oh my gosh. That girl has a move that anyone wants. I was telling the girls (in the locker room) I wish I had it, so I can teach it. She’s a great player and she did it tonight.”

Wilkins led the Bears with 13 points.

Rifle (0-1) resumes play Friday against Basalt in the opening round of the weekend-long Brenda Patch Memorial Tournament at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale.

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