Scoring surge lifts Rifle girls |

Scoring surge lifts Rifle girls

Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Rifle's Toni Booth looks to pass the ball away from Steamboat Springs' Kady Look on Wednesday in Steamboat. The Bears improved to 5-0 overall this season with their 39-27 victory.
Joel Reichenberger / Steamboat Pilot & Today |

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — One strong run and an endless string of answers gave the Rifle High School girls basketball team a comfortable win over the Steamboat Springs Sailors on Wednesday night.

The teams played close nearly through the first half, but in its closing minutes the Bears put together a run Steamboat couldn’t ever make up en route to a 39-27 victory.

“That’s how they are,” Steamboat coach Mack Spitellie said of Rifle. “They’re a great defensive team. We played defense very well, too, but that’s a very good team. We have to quit turning the ball over.”

Steamboat was within two, 12-10 with 3 minutes remaining in the first half. A 3-point shot from the Bears’ Whitney Vance started Rifle’s offense, however. The Bears kept their next possession alive with an offensive rebound and Emily Neuroth turned that into two more points. Then, freshman Elly Walters stole the ball as Steamboat brought it up the court moments later, laying it in off the glass for a 19-10 Rifle lead.

That sent the game to half, but Rifle scored the first two points of the third quarter, too, capping a 9-0 run that defined the game.

“We hit that 3-pointer and that opened up the paint. Then we finally converted on a couple of layups,” Rifle coach Kristy Wallner said. “The first quarter we missed 13 layups. Finally, we started hitting some shots and they came at the right time to put us on a little spurt.”

Steamboat had its chances to get back into it. Two big 3-pointers from Megan Limberg pulled the Sailors within striking distance on two occasions. Still, they were always a basket away from making anyone sweat the outcome, and they never could get that extra basket.

Maddison Clock led Steamboat with nine points, all in the second half. Savannah Bauknecht scored eight.

Rifle’s Walters led all scorers with 13 while Jessie Pressler and Neuroth each had eight.

The win kept Rifle undefeated, 5-0, with two games remaining before the winter break, Friday at the Pepsi Center in Denver against Glenwood Springs and Saturday at home against Summit. It was also the Class 4A Western Slope League opener for both teams.

Steamboat slipped to 3-4 and will close out the 2014 portion of its schedule on the road Saturday at Eagle Valley.

BOYS: Steamboat Springs 43, Rifle 39

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Austin Kerbs scored nine points, five in the fourth quarter — and gave Steamboat a key cushion late in the game after scoring on the second of two offensive rebounds late in the game.

“He worked his tail off all night,” Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said of Kerbs. “He just works so hard and that’s something we’ve challenged our kids with. We all need to play that hard.”

Four more than three quarters Rifle took every hit the Sailors (4-3, 1-0 4A WSL) had. The score was tied at 18 at halftime and 30 heading into the fourth quarter. Every time Steamboat took a lead, the Bears managed to catch up.

In the second quarter, it was a big 3-pointer from Avery Lujan. In the fourth, a basket and a made free throw from Jacob Boone reeled Steamboat back in again and another trey, this one late in the game, from Lujan, forced the Sailors to make their free throws.

Luis Carreon led Rifle (3-2, 0-1 4A WSL) with 13 points while Boone had nine.

“It was a dogfight. I was happy with the way our kids competed,” Rifle coach Roger Walters said. “We hung in there and didn’t let Steamboat get too far away from us. Our kids showed a lot of guts.

“Steamboat’s just really good. It’s really hard to keep them off the glass. They have a chance to be really special this year.”

Steamboat had other highlights. A 3-pointer from Robi Powers helped Steamboat out early, and an ally-oop dunk finished by Garrett Bye gave the squad a boost early in the fourth quarter.

Nothing seemed quite as important as Kerbs’ two offensive rebounds, however.

Both came on the same possession, midway through the fourth quarter with the game close, Steamboat up 34-33.

He grabbed the first one and passed it back out. The second one came at him, too, kind of, at least. He leapt high and caught it with one hand, hauled it in and took a quick dribble to the basket for a put-back and a 36-33 lead.

Powers led all scorers with 16 and Bye finished with 10.

“We dodged a bullet a little bit,” DeWolfe said. “We just have to play better. We had an off night. We were really flat and mentally not sharp. We were able to hang around and get some shots when we needed them.”

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