Trio of Bears scorers top outgunned Rams
Behind a punishing defense and some timely shooting from beyond the arc, the Rifle Bears girls basketball team rolled past the host Roaring Fork Rams girls basketball team 44-9, Friday, to kick off the annual Brenda Patch Tournament.
Sophomore guard Elly Walters poured in 11 points and junior forward Sam Hinkle added 12 points in a physical battle with Rams forward Lyndsay Hansen, leading the Bears to the lopsided win.
Sophomore guard Jessie Pressler added five points for Rifle, which led 21-3 at the half before pulling away for the 35-point win.
Early on it looked like the Bears would shoot their way to victory from beyond the arc as Pressler and Walters each knocked down early threes, but as the game got more physical, Rifle continued to go inside to Hinkle, who bested Hansen in the matchup of bigs.
“Sam has worked hard over the summer to develop her game,” Bears head coach Kristy Wallner said. “She lets us push her to another level. Tonight, I think she showed that she’s capable of working hard in the paint.”
As Hinkle took over the game for a stretch, Walters and Pressler were able to take a step back and let the game come to them. Once the Rams adjusted to Hinkle’s inside presence, the Bears leaned on their sophomore guards to provide scoring from all over the court.
Walters knocked down shots left and right, including a driving up-and-under layup in the thick of the Rams defense midway through the third quarter.
Throughout the summer, Walters, Hinkle and Pressler all played AAU basketball, which helped their confidence grow on such a competitive level. It showed once the trio returned to Western Slope League action.
While the Bears clicked on all cylinders, the Rams struggled to find their footing in the first game under head coach Chris Hall in his second year.
The Rams were able to get open looks at times, but they just couldn’t get shots to fall and they were knocked around at both ends of the floor on the glass despite holding a size advantage on the Bears.
Although the Rams weren’t able to pull down key rebounds, Hall still liked what he saw from his team in terms of boxing out.
“That’s probably the best we’ve done that in a year,” Hall said post-game. “That’s been a focus for us. In terms of the offensive execution, I thought we got some great looks, but other times some of the passes were too late and we were too far under the basket to make a good layup, but we started to get things working in the third period.”
Despite dropping their first game of the Brenda Patch Tournament, the Rams — namely Hall — are still focused on putting up a good showing, considering what the tournament means to the community of Carbondale.
“It’s special because it’s really a part of the legacy of Roaring Fork,” Hall said. “It’s special to be a part of it because I have family that went here 25 years ago. I have family that knows the Patch family as well, so to be able to extend her legacy and what she was really about from an athletic standpoint, as well as an academic standpoint, that is special. It’s really fun to be part of it all.”
The Rams girls team returns to the court, Saturday, against the Steamboat Springs Sailors with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m.
Although the Roaring Fork girls came up short in their opening game of the tournament, the Roaring Fork boys basketball team provided plenty of highlights in their nightcap against the Eagle Valley Devils, coming out on top 47-25 under head coach Larry Williams.
Led by returning All-Conference guard Aldo Pinela, the Rams raced out to a 19-11 halftime lead while filling up the stats sheet from beyond the arc.
Just before the halftime buzzer sounded, Sergio Vega was able to knock down a corner three-pointer to push the Rams lead to eight points at the break.
Although the Devils held a significant size advantage, the Rams were able to space them out with key shooting from beyond the arc thanks to Pinela, Vega and Jassiel Petatan.
Holding a large lead late in the game, the Rams began to hold the ball, forcing the Devils to foul and hope the Rams would let them back into the game through missed free throws. However, Pinela, Vega and Petatan had other plans, calmly sinking free throw after free throw to cap off the 47-25 win at home.
The Roaring Fork boys will host Rifle, Saturday, at 6:30 p.m. The Bears picked up a lopsided win over Aspen, 61-29, earlier in the tournament.
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The Coal Ridge High School boys and girls basketball teams will both be home Tuesday night to open the Class 3A state basketball tournament.