One of the Elite
Montrose advances to 4A Elite 8 with win over Rifle
MONTROSE — They are more than teammates. The Montrose High School girls basketball players are friends and an extended family.
“We’re a very close team,” Montrose senior Tess Skoe said. “We have team dinners. We hang out with each other. We went bowling once this year. Everybody is equal on this team. Everyone contributes.”
Six players scored and more contributed in other areas Saturday to lead Montrose to a 43-33 victory over Rifle in the third round of the Class 4A girls basketball state tournament at Montrose High School.
The Indians (20-4) advance to play the region’s top seed, Broomfield, in the Elite 8 next Saturday at the Denver Coliseum. The Eagles (24-1) advanced with a 53-27 win over Mullen.
It is the first time Montrose advanced to the quarterfinals since the 2008-09 season, the Montrose coaching staff said.
“We talked about things at the beginning of the year, what we wanted to accomplish,” coach Eric Sanchez said. “We wanted to win the Southwestern League and win more than one playoff game. We didn’t win the Southwestern League, but we came back focused to win the district and more than one playoff game.
“It’s a great feeling. The kids put a lot of time and effort into it. They sacrificed a lot. The neat thing is we’re not done.”
Skoe led Montrose with 12 points.
The guard got the Indians going early, scoring seven of the team’s first 14 points, including a three-point play.
Rifle (17-8) hung with the Indians behind Chante Church.
The junior guard led the Bears with 16 points. Joey Kuheim scored 10.
“I feel good how we played the entire game,” Rifle coach Rick Schmitz said. “Our kids gave it everything they had. We went toe-to-toe with them.”
Church kept Rifle in the game early with a 3-pointer and several drives to the basket. She had 10 points at halftime.
Montrose, though, had the momentum going into halftime with Holly Brooks’ 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Indians had their biggest lead of the first half at halftime, 23-17.
Montrose keyed its defense on Church in the second half.
“We knew we had to make some adjustments at halftime,” Sanchez said. “Church had 10 at halftime. We had to do some things to change some things up. As a group we understood everything flowed through her.
“We wanted to limit the amount of time she could catch the ball. Once she put it on the floor, we had more than one person come at her. We wanted to make someone else beat us. Fortunately for us, no one else was able to do that.”
The Indians limited Rifle to one point in the third quarter: a Church free throw. Montrose pushed its lead to 31-18 going into the fourth quarter after Elise Hill scored at the end of the third.
Montrose’s defense limited Rifle to four shots and forced six turnovers in the third quarter.
On the offensive end, the Indians crashed the boards, grabbing six offensive rebounds.
“We knew it would be a physical game,” Skoe said. “We had to fight through it, stay patient and run the offense. That’s what we did.”
In the fourth quarter, Montrose continued to drive to the basket and draw fouls. Skoe scored five of her 12 points in the fourth.