From lambs to Rams |

From lambs to Rams

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan Special to the Post IndependentRoaring Fork's Jake Strack-Loertscher puts up a shot during Saturday's Sweet 16 game against Weld Central. Strack-Loertscher and the Rams will take on Jefferson Academy in Thursday's Class 3A state semifinals. Tipoff is slated for 8:45 a.m. at Colorado State University's Moby Arena.

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Larry Williams has long known what his Roaring Fork boys basketball team could become. It’s why he accepted the job in the first place.

It just took a while for the Rams to put it all together.

After compiling a 12-30 record in the coach’s first two seasons on the job, Roaring Fork is realizing its immense potential.

The third season is proving to be a charm for Williams, whose squad is in Class 3A’s round of eight for the first time since 2007-08. Roaring Fork (17-7) will tip off at 8:45 a.m. against Jefferson Academy (17-7) in Thursday’s state quarterfinals at Colorado State University’s Moby Arena.

After coaching the program’s C team in 2007-08, Williams knew he was inheriting something special when he made the leap to varsity. With players like current seniors Dalton Handy and Jake Strack-Loertscher on the roster, the Rams’ C-teamers went 14-1 that season.

“After coaching Jake and Dalton and some others their freshman year, they’re the reason I took this job,” Williams said. “I knew these were special kids and, boy, what a special group we have surrounding them.

“I knew we had the potential to do this. I can’t say I knew we would do this, but I knew the possibility was there.”

Turning possibility into reality has been a roller coaster of an experience. Roaring Fork has exhibited a flair for the dramatic in reaching this point.

The Rams needed overtime to knock off Bennett, 65-51, in the first round of the 32-team 3A playoffs on Friday. They went to overtime again in the second round, defeating Weld Central, 82-72, on Saturday.

It’s nothing new for the Carbondale team. Roaring Fork has gone extra time on seven occasions this season.

“It’s just something about those overtime games,” junior Sam Carpenter said. “They just click for us.”

With 17 points and overtime’s first two baskets, Carpenter was one of several heroes in Saturday’s win over Weld. And he’s one of just several players to step up in the clutch for Roaring Fork this season.

Depth is, without a doubt, this team’s greatest strength.

“We’re unselfish,” Strack-Loertscher said. “We know that, up and down our bench, we can get points. That’s our strongest thing. You can’t shut down one guy. You’ve got to shut down a team. Right now, that’s pretty difficult.”

The statistics corroborate Strack-Loertscher’s assessment. With a 12.6 points-per-game average, the big man is the team’s leading scorer. Fellow big Trae Moxley, a sophomore, is next with a 10.7 scoring average. Then it’s Handy (9.6) and sophomore Dakotah Grett (9.3).

“I’ve never had a group that truly cares about each other as much as this group does,” Williams said. “They could care less who scores how many points each night. It’s all about the team.”

A team Williams just couldn’t turn down the chance to coach entering the 2008-09 season.

“I’ve known most of them since before they were in high school,” he said. “They’re a neat group of kids. Besides being good basketball players, they’re good kids.”

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