Cardinals draw Rifle Bears

RIFLE — A fast start against the Basalt High School boys basketball team Monday night quickly put the Rifle Bears in the proverbial driver’s seat in their Class 3A Western Slope League district tournament play-in game.

Rian Creech scored a game-high 17 points and Taylor Boone added 12 for the Bears, who outscored the Longhorns 20-5 in the first quarter on their way to a 63-47 win at Rifle High School.

“We’ve got to bring the intensity every game,” Boone said. “if we come out slow, the game becomes a lot harder. It’s a lot harder to be playing from behind than when you’re up 20 in the first half.”

Rifle (10-10 overall) made things really hard for Basalt (5-15) from the get-go.

The Bears didn’t allow a field goal until Blake Scherer’s jumper with 3 minutes 51 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Creech converted a three-point play with 4:28 left before halftime to give Rifle a 29-9 cushion.

The Bears rode that cushion into the eight-team tournament bracket. They’ll play Grand Valley (15-4), the WSL’s regular-season champion and the tournament’s top-seeded team, at 7 tonight in the tournament’s quarterfinal round.

Rifle, which snapped a four-game skid with the victory, hopes to carry the energy from Monday’s game into today’s game.

“After watching how much energy we played with at Roaring Fork (on Saturday, a 76-73 double-overtime loss), basically I told them to duplicate that and we’d do well. Our kids did play some good defense up there, so we wanted to apply that today and, hopefully, again tomorrow.”

Scherer finished with 15 points to pace the Longhorns, 13 of those coming in the second half. His scoring outburst, along with some good play under the rim, helped the Longhorns come within striking distance.

Scott Riggins had 11 for Basalt, and his free throws to start Basalt’s scoring in the third quarter triggered a 12-2 run to bring the Longhorns within 40-28 with close to 4 minutes left in the quarter. Rifle answered, however, as a fast-break layup from Triston Quigley, coupled with four foul shots from Von Church, bumped the Bears’ lead back to 51-34 with 5:37 left to play.

The Longhorns, whose season ended with the loss, were limited to 16-of-41 shooting (39 percent).

Hotchkiss 66, Cedaredge 62: Dakota Coats scored 27 points and Tanner Simpson added 14 to pace the Bulldogs in their district tournament play-in game victory.

Hotchkiss moves into the eight-team tournament bracket and plays Aspen tonight in the quarterfinal round.

GIRLS

Cedaredge 45, Hotchkiss 42: The Bruins (5-15) rebounded from a tough loss to the Bulldogs at the end of the regular season to earn a play-in game victory. Cedaredge moves on to play the WSL’s regular-season champion, Rifle, at 7 tonight in the quarterfinal round.

Roaring Fork 42, Aspen 41: The Rams (2-18), who were winless one season ago, eked out a close victory against the Skiers to move into the eight-team tournament field. Roaring Fork plays Wednesday at Olathe in the quarterfinal round.


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