Central rallies in 4th quarter, but falls short against Rifle
The Rifle High School boys basketball team discovered plenty of scoring options against Central and came away with a 48-42 win Tuesday night.
Throughout the season, Rifle (3-2) has depended heavily on the inside scoring of big man Tanner Quick. With Central (3-8) denying the entry pass and surrounding Quick every time he touched the ball, the Bears turned to its fast-break offense in the first half to open a large lead.
Trenton Brown scored 16 points as the Bears used an 11-0 run to end the second quarter for a 27-12 lead. Nick Kosht got the run going with a steal and coast-to-coast layup. Then Brown made a slick pass to Cody Rice for a bucket, followed by a three-point play by Tanner Rust.
With Central collapsing around Quick, it was obvious Rifle needed to find its offense elsewhere.
“We knew they were going to take away our big man, so we all knew we had to be threats on the offensive end and make our shots,” Brown said.
High-scoring Central forward Trey Fair, who finished with 16 points, saw his minutes cut because of some minor foul trouble in the first half. He scored the Warriors’ first seven points of the game.
Central refused to wilt and made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter, but the third quarter belonged to the Bears.
Brown hit three pull-up jumpers, and Wyatt Robinson scored two buckets to help push Rifle’s lead to 40-18 early in the fourth.
That’s when Central started a methodical rally. Tyler Talkington hit a short jumper, then a 3-pointer, and when freshman Kyle Blair swished a 3-pointer from the corner, the lead was down to 10 at 41-31. Another Talkington bucket and a three-point play by Fair made the score 43-36.
The left-handed Fair made a drive and was fouled and hit one free throw cut the lead to six. After the drive, Rifle head coach Roger Walters screamed at Rust to take away the left-handed drive. The next time down, Rust did just that, drawing a charge on Fair, his fifth foul.
Central head coach Ryan Hayden said Rifle’s run to end the first half was too much to overcome.
“We were pretty lackadaisical in the first half, but as bad as we played, I actually thought we played pretty good for the first 12 minutes of the game. Then they went on that run,” he said.
Hayden said Central’s defensive strategy was pretty simple: Eliminate Quick as an offensive threat. It worked. Quick was limited to one point.
“He’s really their heart and soul, so we hoped that if we took him away, we’d make the other guys beat us from the outside,” Hayden said. “I thought it was a good game plan, but offensively, we just turned the ball over too much in that first half.”