PEACH VALLEY — Roaring Fork High School’s boys basketball team set the tempo early thanks to its dominance on the offensive and defensive boards. Thanks to some timely rebounding, however, the Coal Ridge Titans are going to the Class 3A state tournament.
Andy Bowles had 12 points with nine of his 10 rebounds coming in the second half, Alec Herrera scored 13 points before dislocating his left middle finger, and Coal Ridge outlasted Roaring Fork, last year’s district champion, 43-41, on Tuesday in the first round of the Class 3A Western Slope League District Tournament.
“That made a huge difference,” Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey said. “We know that Roaring Fork is a great rebounding team, and ... the big guys stepped up and the little guys chipped in just enough for us.”
They chipped in enough for the Titans (11-9 overall) to clinch one of the tournament’s five berths in next week’s Class 3A state tournament. It also moved them into the district tournament’s semifinal round on Friday against top-seeded Aspen, who defeated Basalt 51-28 in another tournament game on Tuesday.
The game will be played on Friday in Palisade, with the winner moving into the tournament title game on Saturday.
That came for the Titans thanks mostly to their improved rebounding effort. Roaring Fork finished with a 36-26 edge for the game, outrebounding Coal Ridge 15-5 in the first half and 10-0 in the first quarter. The Titans, however, matched the Rams board for board in the second half — both finished with 21 — and retained possession down the stretch with several rebounds off their own missed foul shots.
“Rebounding isn’t about technique. You’ve just gotta want it,” said Herrera, who pulled down a late board of his own after his fourth-quarter injury. “I fell like we just had to want it. And because of that, we got it in the second half.”
Roaring Fork (9-11) will have to rebound in a different way against its next opponent. The Rams dropped into the tournament’s consolation bracket with the loss and will host Basalt on Thursday. Roaring Fork must win to keep its hopes of a regional berth alive.
“They know it’s do or die now,” Roaring Fork coach Larry Williams said. “We told them [after the game] it’s a test of character now.
“They can either let this defeat them or be more determined.”
Roaring Fork senior post player Dwayne Yin, a Colorado Roky Mountain School student, finished with a game-high 14 points with six rebounds, hitting 4-of-7 attempts from the field in the first half. Ben Carpenter added nine points for the Rams, who fell behind for the first time in the game when a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Richie Winkler gave the Titans a 20-18 halftime lead.
The Rams then retook the lead headed into the fourth quarter when Carpenter’s 3-pointer with 47 seconds on the clock gave Roaring Fork a 33-30 lead.
The Titans fought back, though, and went up 38-37 on a 3 from Herrera with 2 minutes, 18 seconds left to play, Timmy Nielsen responded on the other end for Roaring Fork with a layup, but Herera nailed another 3 on the opposite end.
Herrera, on the Titans’ next possession, was fouled on a drive to the basket and had to leave the game after the team trainer couldn’t pull his finger back into place. Jacob Sollinger came in and hit 1-of-2 foul shots, and Herrera returned to the game with his fingers taped.
From there, the Titans constantly got to the free throw line.
They weren’t able to convert, but three big boards by Bowles helped the Titans retain possession.
The Rams got two more shots to tie it. Carpenter’s attempted 3 with 7.5 seconds remaining missed. Sollinger rebounded and missed two foul shots. Yin rebounded the second miss and Carpenter was fouled, and the senior hit 1-of-2 attempts to bring the Rams within 43-41.
Winkler was fouled when he got possession for Coal Ridge but missed his free throws. The rebound came to Carpenter, whose desperation heave at the buzzer fell short.
“I told the guys that if we’re going to do this, going through the reigning district champs is a great way to start,” Harvey said.
“They know it’s do or die now. We told them [after the game] it’s a test of character now. They can either let this defeat them or be more determined.”
Roaring Fork High boys basketball coach