Seasoned Bears advance in playoffs
RIFLE – When it comes to playoff basketball, there truly is no substitute for experience.
The calmer, cooler and playoff-toughened Rifle boys took advantage of Fountain-Fort Carson’s youth and inexperience in post-season play to post a 80-69 win over the Trojans, whose roster consists of 11 underclassmen and just one senior.
Rifle coach Roger Walters said the experience they gained in a first-round loss last season helped them prepare for Tuesday’s game against the Trojans.
“That loss taught us a lot,” said Walters. “We came out relaxed and played well. We did what we normally do and didn’t deviate from what we’ve been doing the second half of the season.”
With point guard Andy Gardineer at the controls, Rifle methodically waited for the younger Trojans to make a mistake. And when they did, the Bears took advantage.
Ryan Shideler made life miserable for the visitors all night.
His breakaway slam dunk after a midcourt steal halfway through the first quarter gave Rifle a six-point lead, and the Bears never looked back afterwards.
“That dunk boosted us up and really got the crowd going,” he said of the play that gave the Bears a 10-4 lead.
The junior forward went on to score 10 of his game-high 25 points in the period.
Rifle never trailed the rest of the way.
They pulled out to a 36-29 lead at halftime, and boosted the margin to 13 points at the end of the third quarter
Later on, when the Bear lead had shrunk to 60-52, Shideler iced the victory during a 8-0 Bear scoring run in the fourth quarter.
The junior had a role in each of the Bears’ next four field goals, which gave Rifle an insurmountable 70-52 lead with 3:17 remaining.
Shideler started the run with a driving lay-up, set up by Steven Winchell’s pass. The next time down the floor, he sparked a Gardineer fast break basket on a nice midcourt pass for another field goal, and capped the drive with a second layin a couple of plays later.
Senior Carl Day complemented his teammates by scoring 20 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Gardineer added 13 points with five assists.
Ryan Walker had 21 points and Chase Hedley added 15 for the Trojans.
Rifle will play the winner of tonight’s Montrose-Pueblo Central game on Friday. If the lower-seeded Indians can post an upset over Pueblo Central, the higher-seeded Bears will play at home. If Central wins, Rifle travels to Pueblo.
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