Girls hit road for big game at Rifle

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Something has to give when the Steamboat Sailors take on the Rifle Bears in an important league showdown beginning at 7 p.m. Friday at Rifle. That is because the two teams match up almost identically in nearly every statistical category.

The Bears and the Sailors are 6-2 overall and both are undefeated in the league.

The Bears average 49.4 points per game and the Sailors average 46.3 points per game.

Defensively, Steamboat is holding its opponents to 38.5 points, and Rifle allows 35.3 points.

At home this season, the Bears and Sailors each have one loss. Rifle has the home-court advantage Friday, though Steamboat coach Bruce Alston said his team is ready for the challenge.

Steamboat, which is 2-0 in the conference, comes off a 39-21 win over Battle Mountain.

Brienna Combs scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds against the Huskies. Natalie Muth had 14 points in that game and Ashley Rogers had 10 rebounds.

The Bears are led by Marilyn Samson, a 5-foot-10 senior forward who played on last year's Bears squad that shared the conference title with Moffat County. Seniors Lisa Samuelson and Megan Langstaff also return.

Langstaff led the Bears in blocked shots last year.

"They're solid everywhere," Alston said. "They don't make a lot of mistakes. Maybe more than anything else, they crash the boards well."

To knock off the Bears, Alston said, the Sailors have to be more efficient. They also have to reduce turnovers and apply the same defensive pressure they have in their previous two games, he said.

Sailor Jannike Combs, who is averaging four points and seven rebounds per game, said her team will have to be at its best come Friday.

"They have big players and they're fast," Combs said. "They have a real advantage as far as that, but I think we do as well.

"Our defense is extremely intense this year. Everyone is playing together as a team. We're definitely focused."

The Sailors and Bears tip off at 7 p.m.

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