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RBC I Both Rio Blanco County girls’ basketball teams came into their Tuesday matchup with two wins from the week before. Rangely played in Oak Creek last Friday and defeated the Soroco Rams 55-43 before taking on Fruita’s JV in Fruita and winning 52-35. Meeker pounded Plateau Valley 61-20 last Friday in Collbran before hosting and defeating the Paonia Eagles (46-40) in front a hometown crowd last Saturday.
The Lady Panthers came to Meeker for their first meeting of the season but since it was the first of two contests against each other, it would not count in the league standings.
“I really didn’t know what to expect, with Deb (Henderson) as their new coach,” Rangely head coach Jimmie Mergelman said of her county rival. “We had not seen them since the Shootout.”
As it happens so many times when Rio Blanco County teams play each other, they bring out the best in each other and Tuesday’s match was no different. An extra four minutes of play after regulation time was needed to determine the winner.
Rangely scored first but Meeker answered quickly and the Lady Panthers held an 8-7 lead after the first quarter of play. Rangely’s Brittany Babineaux scored half of Rangely’s first quarter points. Rangely seniors Victoia Phelan and Marie Morton matched Babineaux’s first quarter output and helped the Lady Panthers take a 20-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We were a little flat in the first half but came out and played well in the second half,” Meeker head coach Deb Henderson said.
Five Meeker players scored in the third quarter, while only Babineaux and Phelan put points up for Rangely in the third and Meeker pulled within two (26-28) at the end of the quarter.
Both teams played tough defense and both had opportunities at the free throw line in the final eight minutes of regulation play.
With about a minute to play in the fourth, Rangely led by five but baskets from Meeker’s Kathryn Doll and Taylor Neilson pulled Meeker within one point with 18 seconds to play. Neilson was later fouled and made one of two free throws to tie the game and send it into overtime.
“We gave ourselves opportunities to win,” Henderson said. “We tied the game and sent it into overtime and for our young kids that was huge.”
Morton scored four in the first two minutes of overtime and Rangely led by six before Neilson hit a three-pointer and freshman classmate Aly Ridings made a basket and pulled Meeker within one. Rangely put the game away with two free throws from Babineaux, Phelan added another one and Rangely won 47-45.
“Meeker played well and their defense caused us a lot of problems,” Mergelman said. “We will have to work that.”
Meeker is off for the weekend but Rangely will play a make-up game against Vail Christian tonight at home and host another league game against West Grand Friday before traveling to Baggs, Wyo., Saturday.