PEACH VALLEY, Colorado - Roaring Fork played the first two games of the 2012-13 season without Trae Moxley. The Rams were happy to have their 6-foot-5 senior back on the court at Coal Ridge on Friday night.
Moxley finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, helping Roaring Fork to a 52-41 win in Peach Valley. He presence did wonders for not only the Rams' inside game, but for their perimeter game, too.
"It was tremendous having him back," Roaring Fork coach Larry Williams said. "That opens up the outside a little bit when he's out there."
Five 3-pointers - two apiece from Ben Carpenter and Tanner Nieslanik and one from Dakota Grett - spoke to that.
Grett, a senior, led all scorers with 17 points. He also hit at a 6-for-6 clip from the foul line in the fourth quarter to help ice the win.
"He hit his free throws down the stretch and stepped up his defense," Williams said. "He also stepped up his rebounding. He's turning himself into an all-around player."
Nieslanik finished with eight points and Carpenter six as the Rams improved to 1-2 on the season. They hadn't played since the season-opening Brenda Patch Tournament, which took place Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
Moxley had to sit out tourney losses against Steamboat Springs and Eagle Valley because of disciplinary issues that occurred at the end of football season.
With Moxley back patrolling the paint on Friday, the Titans focused on feeding their big man, 6-5 Andy Bowles. The junior had a big night, leading his team with 17 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
"We were really trying to take it to Moxley, trying to pound it inside," said Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey, whose team led 11-10 after a quarter. "Most teams shy away from him, but Andy is athletic. We think his speed and quickness can give us an advantage. We tried the inside-out thing."
In the end, Roaring Fork simply shot the ball a tad more effectively. The Rams hit at an 18-of-51 clip from the floor (35 percent). The Titans connected on 11 of their 44 shots (25 percent).
"I think both teams played hard," Harvey said. "We were both flying around on defense. You know, they hit their shots and we didn't, but our guys executed the game plan and fed the ball inside."
Alec Herrera and Richie Winkler finished with seven points apiece for Coal Ridge, which dropped to 0-4 and will play at Olathe today.
Roaring Fork will play host to Moffat County in Carbondale today at 4 p.m. The girls game tips off at 2:30 p.m.
Communication was the key for Roaring Fork's girls in Friday's 61-46 win at Coal Ridge.
"We just started talking," Rams senior Shaeley Lough said. "We weren't really talking in the first half and we kind of got down on ourselves, but we picked up the intensity. Coach gave us a good pep talk and we kind of went out with a chip in our shoulder. We said, 'This is our game. We have to take it.'"
Lough's assessment certainly squared up with how things played out.
The teams played to a 13-all tie through the first quarter. A late surge lifted Roaring Fork to a 33-30 halftime lead. None other than Lough banked home a 3-pointer as time ran out on the half to cap a 5-0 run.
The Rams held the Titans to just 16 second-half points - 10 in the third and six in the fourth - to polish off the victory.
Cassidy Blackard and Paige Ryan led Coal Ridge, now 1-3 overall, with 13 points.
Titans coach Damon Martinez lamented his team's lack of defense.
"Defensively, we've got to tighten it up," he said. "That's one thing. We've got to figure out what we're going to do with that."
Still, Martinez's squad held its own.
"Coal Ridge is fast," Roaring Fork coach Kirk Cheney said. "They hurt us quite a bit in the first half. We weren't getting back in transition."
Cheney's squad improved to 1-2 overall with the 3A Western Slope League win.
The Rams would be 2-1 if not for a rules violation. Although Roaring Fork defeated Eagle Valley on the court at the Brenda Patch Tournament two weekends ago, it had to later forfeit that win because the Rams suited up a sophomore transfer student who, by the Colorado High School Activities Association's transfer rule, was ineligible to play. Transfers must sit out an allotted number of games before suiting up for their new school.