1st-half spurt sinks Steamboat girls

Joel Reichenberger
Rifle's Elly Walters holds off Steamboat junior Tess Richey on Wednesday. The Sailors were close early, but couldn't hang with undefeated Rifle as the game wore on.
Joel Reichenberger

— One strong run and an endless string of answers gave the Rifle High School girls basketball team a comfortable win in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday night.

The teams played close nearly through the first half, but in its closing minutes the Bears put together a run Steamboat couldn’t ever make up en route to a 39-27 victory.

“That’s how they are,” Steamboat coach Mack Spitellie said about Rifle. “They’re a great defensive team. We played defense very well, too, but that’s a very good team. We have to quit turning the ball over.”

Steamboat was within two, 12-10, with three minutes remaining in the first half. A 3-point shot from Bears’ Whitney Vance started Rifle’s offense, however. The Bears kept their next possession alive with an offensive rebound, and Emily Neuroth turned that into two more points, then Elly Walters stole the ball as Steamboat brought it up the court moments later, laying it in for a layup and a 19-10 lead.

That sent the game to half, but Rifle scored the first two points of the third quarter, too, capping a 9-0 run that defined the game.

“We hit that 3-pointer and that opened up the paint. Then we finally converted on a couple of layups,” Rifle coach Kristy Wallner said. “The first quarter we missed 13 layups. Finally, we started hitting some shots and they came at the right time to put us on a little spurt.”

Steamboat had its chances to get back into it. Two big 3-pointers from Megan Limberg pulled the Sailors within striking distance on two occasions. Still, they always were a basket away from making anyone sweat the outcome, and they never could get that extra basket.

Maddison Clock led Steamboat with nine points, all in the second half. Savannah Bauknecht scored eight.

Rifle’s Walters led all scorers with 13 while Jessie Pressler and Neuroth each had eight.

The win kept Rifle undefeated, 5-0, with two games remaining before the winter break, Friday at the Pepsi Center in Denver against Glenwood Springs and Saturday at home against Summit.

Steamboat slipped to 3-4 and will close out the 2014 portion of its schedule on the road Saturday at Eagle Valley.

“Our league is one big mass of good teams,” Spitellie said. “We have to fight through some of them and beat some of them.”

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