Rye girls basketball whips rival Rocky Ford in Great 8, will host Wray in Final Four
RYE — Playing against an archrival brought out the best in the Rye High School girls basketball team on Monday night.
The Thunderbolts raced past Santa Fe League rival Rocky Ford 56-26 in the Great 8 of the Colorado Class 2A state girls high school basketball tournament at home. Fourth-seeded Rye improved to 15-1 and will play in the Final Four on Thursday against No. 8 Wray (12-3), which upset top-seeded Holyoke 65-58 in the Great 8.
Not only will the Thunderbolts be playing in the Final Four for only the second time in their history (2011), but they'll get a shot at the title game in their home gym. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.
No. 3 Sanford and No 10 Limon will meet at Sanford in the other Final Four game. The semifinal winners advance to the 10 a.m. Saturday championship game at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs.
Thanks to that Holyoke loss, Rye gets to host as the higher-seeded team.
"The girls were very focused," Rye coach Kermit Spencer said. "We made some adjustments and the girls executed very well. They have a goal. Big step."
Here are three takeaways from Monday night's rivalry romp
No comeback this time
The Thunderbolts dominated from the get-go, leading 18-2 after the first quarter and 31-10 at halftime.
The last time the teams met during the Santa Fe League season, Rye led 25-6 after one quarter and watched as the Meloneers rallied, finally tying the game in the fourth quarter at 42 before falling by four points.
There was no comeback for Rocky Ford on this night.
"We knew we could bring our intensity," Rye senior Jolee Ortiz said. "It's one and done, so we're going to go out swinging."
The T-bolts continued their relentless pressure in the third quarter, extending their halftime lead to 40-15 entering the fourth quarter. The Final Four berth was virtually assured by that point.
Sydney Adamson led the way with 19 points, Ortiz added 15 and Sophie Adamson and Chloe Richardson chipped in with eight apiece.
Rocky Ford's Abi Snyder was the lone offensive standout for the Meloneers, scoring 15 of the team's 26 points.
Offensive and defensive execution
Rye was nearly perfect on both ends of the court, especially in the first quarter.
The Thunderbolts made their first five shots and added two free throws to erect an 11-0 cushion before Rocky Ford scored. The Adamson twins — juniors Syndey and Sophie — were the catalysts, with Sydney pouring in eight points and Sophie four.
While Rye's offense was clicking, its defense was even more impressive. It forced six turnovers in the first quarter and limited the Meloneers to one of 11 shooting. It ended up being a trend.
"At halftime, you could just see the girls quiver in the locker room," Spencer said. "They were shaking and excited. I'm so excited for the girls.
"(These) girls have worked very hard, put in the time and been together, and I'm certainly proud of them."
Rocky shooting night for Rocky Ford
The Meloneers suffered a woeful shooting night. By the half, they had made only four of 24 field goals and it got worse in the third quarter when they made just one field goal on 14 attempts. Rocky Ford finished the game making only nine field goals on 51 attempts for 17.6% shooting.
"We absolutely never thought that would happen," Rocky Ford coach Mark Henson said. "On the offensive end, there was nothing there that resembled what we've done all year long. Absolutely dismal."
Much of the poor shooting was due to Rye's relentless defense that forced 16 turnovers and kept Snyder, Rocky's leading scorer, from getting in a shooting rhythm.
Snyder, who poured in 29 points in the earlier meeting this season, was held to 15 on just five for 20 shooting and two for 10 from 3-point range. She made seven 3-pointers in the previous meeting.
"I had to guard (No. 11, Snyder)," Ortiz said. "She had a huge game against us last time. I just knew if we shut her down, we were going to win the game."
Chieftain interim sports editor Jeff Letofsky can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @jeffletofsky