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RIRIE---A tight 2A Nuclear Conference race became tighter Jan. 25.

The Ririe High School girls basketball team put on a rebounding and fast break clinic in the second half en route to a 56-31 win over Firth. With the win, the Bulldogs (10-8 overall) and Firth (12-6 overall) are now tied for first in the Nuclear Conference with identical records of 5-2.

The game was a far cry from the last meeting on Jan. 9, which took two overtimes to decide before Firth won 47-46.

”We knew this was a big one for us in our conference,” said first-year Ririe coach Jake Landon. “I feel like it was a really, really good defensive effort from our girls, for sure.”

The offensive effort was plentiful as well. Nine players scored for Ririe, led by 13 points and eight steals from junior Dallas Sutton. She said the Bulldogs switched up their defense for Saturday’s game knowing what worked and didn’t work in the Jan. 9 game.

”A lot of our practice time was spent on defense and we came out strong,” Sutton said. “We really wanted to beat them.”

Both teams appeared to anticipate what the other would do in the first half. Sutton and fellow junior Sara Boone put Ririe up 6-0 four minutes into the game, and the Bulldogs kept the lead until Hailey Barker hit a 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer to put Firth on top 9-8. Three more lead changes occurred in the second quarter, prompted by Ririe’s Skylee Coles and Firth’s Cassi Robbins, before Sutton, Coles and Jordan Scott sent the Bulldogs on an 8-4 run to enter halftime up 21-17.

The rebounding and fast break clinic began in the third quarter, when Paige Martinez, Sutton and Boone sent Ririe on a 7-0 run in the first 70 seconds of the second half to extend the lead to 28-17. Boone had a 3-point play, Martinez had a putback and Sutton scored off a Boone steal and assist. Sutton had nine points in the third quarter, which ended with a 38-20 lead. Six of those points were from steals--one on her own and two from Boone.

”It was just a great effort by the girls on getting those second and third chance opportunities,” Landon said. “Dallas and Sara set the tone for us.”

Firth was held to three points in the third, a long 2-pointer from Cassi Robbins and a 1-of-2 performance at the foul line by Brooklyn Clayson. The Cougars also went without a basket in the fourth quarter until Kiley Mecham went 1-of-2 at the 5:10 mark to bring Firth within 46-21. Ririe led by 20-plus points the entire fourth quarter.

”We had a rough time in the third quarter,” Firth coach Sharla Cook said. “Too many turnovers.”

Coles, a sophomore, came off the bench to finish with 10 points for the Bulldogs, including hitting three of their five 3-pointers.

”Skylee’s becoming familiar with her role,” Landon said. “One thing she’s great at is shooting the basketball.”

Breyer Newman added eight points for Ririe, which plays Tuesday at Butte County. Robbins had nine points while Mecham and Megan Jolley had seven points each for Firth, which plays Wednesday at North Fremont. Hailey Barker went down injured for Firth with 3:23 left in the game and was helped to the bench where her right leg was elevated. Cook said they will evaluate her status.

Entering Jan. 25, first through third place in the Nuclear Conference standings were separated by one game. All three top teams --Firth, Ririe and West Jefferson--have taken turns beating each other and at least one potential tiebreaker situation may be prompted to determine district tournament seeds.

”It’s a very even conference this year,” Cook said. “There’s a lot of young teams in this conference and pretty even teams.”

RIRIE 56, FIRTH 31

Firth 9 8 3 11--31

Ririe 8 13 17 18--56

FIRTH--Cassi Robbins 9, Brooklyn Clayson 1, Hailey Gee 7, Kiley Mecham 7, Megan Jolley 4, Hailey Barker 3.

RIRIE--Breyer Newman 8, Skylee Coles 10, Paige Martinez 4, Sara Boone 7, Jordan Scott 5, Abbie Nelson 2, Dallas Sutton 13, Alyssa Foster 6, Maggie Ball 1.

Marlowe Hereford

Post Register

Marlowe Hereford is a sports reporter for the Post Register. Contact her at 542-6772 and find her on Twitter: @mwhereford.