Rifle boys rally to beat Steamboat

Roger Walters apologized Thursday to his big man, Tanner Quick, for messing up his free-throw percentage.

“That’s OK,” the 6-foot-6 Rifle High School junior said with a grin after purposely missing a free throw with two seconds left, then alertly jumping toward Steamboat Springs’ 6-9 sophomore Garrett Bye, who had gathered in the rebound.

The carom off the side of the rim allowed the clock to run and didn’t let the Sailors get a shot off, preserving the Bears’ 29-28 come-from-behind victory in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A Southwestern/Western Slope District boys basketball tournament at Central High School.

“He even missed it to the kid we wanted him to miss it to,” Walters said.

Rifle decided to have Quick miss the free throw to make the clock run and so Steamboat couldn’t set up a final shot.

A wild final two minutes helped Rifle move into the semifinals against Durango at 7:30 tonight at Brownson Arena.

Eagle Valley downed Glenwood Springs 52-43 in the final game at Central behind Aryen Hart’s 14 points. The Devils play Palisade in today’s semifinals at Brownson.

Scoring only one point in the third quarter, the Bears went 10 minutes, 40 seconds without scoring but were only down 
21-16 in the defensive game.

Trent Brown drove the lane and finally got a shot to fall for Rifle. He was fouled, converting the three-point play.

It was the start of a 7-2 Rifle flurry, and Quick hit a pretty reverse layup around Bye to tie it at 25-25 with 1:17 left.

“It’s a game of spurts, and luckily we found a spurt at the right time,” Walters said.

The Bears needed a stop or a turnover, and got the latter from Adam Rice. Jake Statler’s two free throws put Rifle up 27-25 with 40 seconds left.

Back came Steamboat’s Carter Kounovsky (13 points), burying a 3 with 13.4 seconds left to give Steamboat a 28-27 lead.

The Bears turned down an open jumper to get the ball inside to Quick for the winning bucket.

“Any time Rifle and Steamboat get together, that’s what you get,” Walters said. “It’s usually a bloodbath, and in the high 20s or 30s. It’s always one of those games; they always seem to be exciting.”


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