Bears overpower Basalt in first round of Class 3A state playoffs

RIFLE — An overmatched first-round opponent for the Rifle High School girls basketball team led to an runaway victory Friday for the second-seeded Bears.

Courtney Cordova scored a game-high 23 points to lead three Rifle players in double figures as the Bears beat up their Western Slope League counterpart Basalt 68-22 in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs at Rifle High School.

“We kind of expected a game like this,” Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said of her team’s win against the 31st-seeded Longhorns. “What I was more concerned with was how we came out with intensity, and I think we made that statement tonight.”

No doubt, the Bears (23-0), the classification’s only remaining unbeaten girls team, didn’t come out taking the game for granted.

Rifle scored 28 of the game’s first 32 points, allowed only three first-half field goals and owned a 38-8 halftime lead.

“We couldn’t come out thinking that we were going to win,” said Racheal Keithley, who finished with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field. “We had to come out strong from the beginning.”

The Bears’ win moved them into the tournament’s round of 16 against Manitou Springs, a 51-44 winner against Denver School of Science and Technology in the late game of the day.

Tip-off is at 1 this afternoon at Rifle, with the winner advancing to play in the Anita Stites-Rowland Regional final March 10 at Colorado State University’s Moby Arena in Fort Collins.

Stephanie Alvarado’s six points and a four-point outing from Ginevra Moore paced the Longhorns (8-14), who reached the tournament thanks to their fifth-place finish in last week’s 3A WSL District tournament. Basalt chanted “believe” in its pregame huddle, but it was apparent early the Longhorns were overmatched.

“We’ll call this a learning experience,” Basalt coach Lauren Redfern said. “The thing that our girls learned from this is what it takes to be at the top and … how high the bar has been set.”

A 3-pointer from Cordova gave Rifle an 11-2 lead with 3 minutes, 55 seconds left in the first quarter. Emmalee Erickson followed with a jumper for Basalt, but the Bears responded with 17 unanswered points to essentially seal the game.


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