Injury to Cordova overshadows Rifle’s victory in 3A districts
The rematch is set, but it could be a much different game this time around.
The Rifle and Olathe girls basketball teams advanced to the Class 3A Western Slope League district finals with semifinal victories, but the Bears (20-0) could be without leading scorer Cortney Cordova.
The Rifle senior crashed down hard on her right hand late in the Bears’ 59-39 victory over Gunnison and had her wrist looked at by a medical professional after the game.
“She’s been a huge contributor for us, but I have faith in my team they’ll be ready to go and someone will step up for us,” Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said. “I know (the Pirates are) going to be ready to go. I expect our girls to be ready to go as well. If we’re not ready to go, then Olathe is going to take it. We’ve got 21 straight wins. We need 22.”
Cordova was injured when she scored on a drive to the basket with 56 seconds left in the game. She made the bucket, but couldn’t shoot the foul shot. Cordova finished with 16 points to lead the Bears. Tresa Berner scored 11 and Makayla Wilkins and Racheal Keithley each scored 10.
Kjirsten Nelson led Gunnison (14-7) with 18 points.
Cordova scored 12 of Rifle’s 19 points in the first quarter to get the Bears off to a good start.
“We came out really hard,” Heald said. “I told them, they had to be ready. We knew it would be a closer game than the other game. We played great defense and didn’t allow a whole lot.”
Gunnison’s defense tightened up a bit in the second quarter, but the Cowboys still trailed 29-20 at halftime.
Rifle limited the Cowboys to one field goal in the first five minutes of the second half to open a 35-23 lead and pushed it to a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
“We knew we had to make a statement in the third quarter,” Heald said. “If we didn’t, they would get back in the game.”
Rifle defeated Olathe 44-43 five weeks ago in Olathe.
Olathe 54, Coal Ridge 26: The Pirates will get a chance to avenge their only league loss after rolling in the other semifinal.
“(Today’s) going to be tough,” Olathe coach Paul Althaus said. “It’s something they’ve been looking forward to since we played them at our place. We felt we should’ve won. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re excited about it.”
Morgan Stansberry led Olathe (18-3) with 15 points. Emily Brummitt scored 13 and Tawni Middleton had 10.
Paige Ryan led Coal Ridge (14-7) with eight points. Carly Cloninger was limited to two points and was in foul trouble most of the game.
Olathe jumped to its customary early lead, 18-5 after one quarter.
“It’s been this way all year,” Althaus said. “The kids really stepped up defensively in the first quarter, putting teams in a hole and giving us a real advantage the rest of the game.
“We got a little scattered in the second quarter and got some fouls we didn’t need to get. The overall effort, I was pleased.”
Coal Ridge limited the Pirates to six points in the second quarter, but the Titans still trailed 24-13 at halftime.
Olathe came out strong in the third quarter, going on a 12-2 run to push the lead to 36-15 after three quarters.