Hot-shooting Beetdiggers top Roaring Fork at Moby | PostIndependent.com

Hot-shooting Beetdiggers top Roaring Fork at Moby

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post Independent
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FORT COLLINS, Colorado – Dalton Handy thinks there’s a high probability Roaring Fork will return to the 3A state boys basketball tournament next season.

He just hopes that, if the Rams do make it back to Fort Collins, their trip aligns with his college spring break.

“They have what it takes to make another deep run next year,” the senior said. “As they progress, they’re going to be fun to watch. I hope that, if they do make it, it’s going to come on my spring break so I can come watch.”

Handy and his Roaring Fork teammates saw a breakout season come to a disappointing end with a 57-37 loss to Brush in Friday’s state tournament consolation semifinals.

The hot-shooting Beetdiggers fired at a 9-for-17 clip on 3-pointers at Colorado State University’s Moby Arena, keeping their season alive in the process.

“They just came out hitting,” said Handy, who has yet to pick a college. “They were on fire. It was ridiculous.”

And so ended a 17-9 campaign that featured Roaring Fork’s first trip to the round of eight since 2007-08 and a bevy of other feats – a Western Slope League district tournament crown and two playoff wins among them.

“We tried to look back at everything we’ve accomplished,” Rams coach Larry Williams said. “We won districts, a regional championship. We fought tooth and nail to get here. Sometimes, people think it’s easy to get here. There have been some great teams and great coaches that have never gotten to the state tournament.”

On the heels of Thursday’s 48-44 loss to Jefferson Academy in the quarterfinals, Roaring Fork never found its groove on Friday.

Brush opened the game on a 9-2 run and had built an 18-8 lead by quarter’s end. Kolby Wahlert and Colby Needens connected on two triples apiece in the frame.

And that would be a trend.

Wahlert went on to hit four more over the course of the game as the Beetdiggers, seeded 27th in the 32-team bracket, coasted into today’s consolation final against Kent Denver. That game tips off at 10 a.m.

Wahlert led Brush (18-8) with 22 points.

“Both Colby Needens and Kolby Wahlert were just hitting 3s like crazy,” said Brush senior C.J. Kukus, who piled up 20 points and nine rebounds. “That was one of our all-around better games.”

Kukus, a 6-foot-4 senior, turned in a breakaway dunk – a two-handed throwdown – in the second quarter that brought the Beetdiggers’ fan base to life and capped an 8-0 run to start the quarter.

“My legs were dying on the way down there,” Kukus said. “We had just been running up and down the court. I looked back to make sure no one was really close, so I could slow down a little bit and rest before I jumped. I didn’t know if I was going to get up high enough because I was so tired.”

The seventh-seeded Rams whittled Brush’s lead to as little as 10 points in the second half, but that’s as close as they’d get.

Jake Strack-Loertscher, Roaring Fork’s only other senior besides Handy, led Roaring Fork with 11 points. Handy chipped in with nine. Sophomore Trae Moxley added six points and junior Sam Carpenter scored five.

“I think we realize what a special season we had,” Handy said. “It’s a great accomplishment to make it here. I think we’re focused more on that. You can look at today’s game – that’s not us. That wasn’t how we played all year. I think most of us will be able to forget this game and focus on the great things we did this season.”

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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