Teamwork is key to Rifle girls’ game
RIFLE – Never overlook the importance of teamwork – Rifle hasn’t.Camaraderie and the team’s work ethic on defense and rebounding has moved the Bears into the Sweet 16 of the Class 4A Girls State Basketball Tournament.”I don’t think we would be as good as we are if we weren’t as close, as a team, as we are,” said forward Renee Laudick. “We’ve gotten so close that we know what the other people (on the team) are going to do on the court.”The gears all came together in Rifle’s 69-32 win over Elizabeth in last week’s second round of the playoffs. The victory put the Bears into tonight’s 8:15 p.m. contest against Greeley West.And the Bears hope the karma’s just as strong heading into the matchup against the 23-1 Spartans when Rifle takes the floor at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
“We can tell where (teammates) are moving to and what they have in mind,” Laudick said. “It’s really special, and it makes the wins and everything so much better, because you have someone to share it with.”Another thing the Bears share is the ability to put defensive pressure on an opponent. To date the Bears have held opponents to a shade over 45 points a game.A win over the Spartans would allow Rifle to stay together as a unit through Saturday’s semifinals, also to be held at UNC, along with prolonging the coaching careers of head coach Rick Schmitz and assistant Jack Smith. Both veteran coaches announced they will retire at the end of the season.Underclassmen Kendall Babler, Kristin Guettler, Chelsea Webb and Megan McWilliams have meshed with seniors Laudick, Neffendorf, Montanah Matthies and Haley Hubbell to give the Bears a 19-4 record.”We’ve been watching these (younger) girls since they were in the fifth grade,” said Laudick. “They impress me, and they’ve stepped up big time. After the first couple of games, when you get on the court, it goes away – what grade you’re in. They’re my teammates, and they are good players.”
Neffendorf and Babler have the team’s best scoring averages at 10.8 each per game. Greeley West counters with three double-digit scorers in Laura Engel, who averages 15.3 points a game, freshman Lauren Dusin, who checks in at 12.7 and Sara Hemmings, with a 11.2 per-game scoring average.Class 4A Girls State Basketball TournamentSweet 16 round
Rifle (19-4) vs. Greeley West (23-1)8:15 p.m. Thursday at University of Northern Colorado, GreeleyLeading ScorersRifle – Kristin Neffendorf, 10.8; Kendall Babler, 10.8Greeley West – Laura Engel, 15.3; Lauren Dusin, 12.7; Sara Hemmings, 11.2
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