Defensive-led 4th quarter charge lifts Montrose past Rifle
RIFLE — A defensive switch by the Montrose High School boys basketball team made a world of difference for the Indians’ offense Wednesday, and it came at the expense of the Rifle Bears in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
Montrose switched to an extended defensive zone in the second half and limited the Bears’ offense, paving the way to a 28-point fourth quarter for the Indians on their way to a 56-46 victory.
“We knew we had to get out on their shooters,” Montrose coach Martin Maloney said. “Mostly, we went to a three-out, two-in defense to make sure we could protect that 3-point line. We felt like that was going to be their best way to catch up with us.
“We did a good job of getting our hands up, got some deflections and got some good transition buckets that way.”
Montrose (11-12) advances to a regional quarterfinal at No. 2-seeded Broomfield (19-4) at 8 p.m. Friday.
Angelo Youngren scored 13 points and Benton Cruz paced the Indians with 14 points, making all six of his free throws in the fourth quarter.
Tanner Quick scored a game-high 16 points to lead the Bears (13-10), who had won 10 of their previous 11 games.
Rifle’s mistakes, including their 19 turnovers over the course of the game, helped give the Indians more opportunities to pull away in the final quarter.
“To win 13 games for this group is pretty good,” Rifle coach Roger Walters said. “But when you get to this point, you always want something more. To go out on a game that’s not your best is tough to swallow.”
Rifle rebounded from a poor first half rallying from a 20-14 halftime deficit to take a 26-25 lead on a 3-pointer by Jake Statler with 2 minutes, 47 seconds left in the third quarter. The Bears built on that lead, going up 32-28 headed into the fourth quarter.
Montrose roared back, though. A 3-pointer from Cruz at the 7:25 mark of the final quarter tied the score at 33-33, and a jump shot from Youngren on the Indians’ next possession gave them the lead for good.
A layup from Rifle’s Cody Rice with 51 seconds remaining pulled the Bears within 47-44, and Youngren missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free-throw opportunity. But the Bears turned the ball over after pulling down the rebound, and Montrose made six of eight free throws in the next 30 seconds to pull away.
■ In other 4A regional games with Western Slope teams: eight-seeded Eagle Valley defeated ninth-seeded Erie 45-36 in the Maceo Brodnax Jr. Region; sixth-seeded Durango beat 11th-seeded Pueblo Central 64-54 in the Guy Gibbs Region; and sixth-seeded Golden beat 11th-seeded Steamboat Springs 58-44 in the Bill Weimar Region.
Dove Creek 80, De Beque 38: With the win, Dove Creek advanced to play North Park at 7:30 p.m. today in the Class 1A District I tournament at Olathe High School.