Rams top Bennett in overtime thriller, 65-61
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Jake Strack-Loertscher best summed up the atmosphere at Roaring Fork High School on Friday.
“It was like listening to your iPod way too loud,” he said with a laugh.
A packed gym that produced all sorts of noise helped Strack-Loertscher, who scored a team high 20 points, and the the boys basketball Rams to a 65-61 win over Bennett in the opening round of the Class 3A state playoffs on Friday.
Trent Reeds knocked down a pair of free throws with 4.1 seconds remaining in overtime to put the game out of reach and propel Roaring Fork into a Sweet 16 showdown against Weld Central today at 1 p.m. in Carbondale.
After Reeds’ second foul shot rattled in, a halfcourt prayer by Bennett’s Mick Schumacher missed its mark.
A wild celebration ensued, as the Rams’ entire student section mobbed the team near midcourt.
“It seems like Trenton always comes through in the end,” Strack-Loertscher said. “He’s one of the kids on the team that never gives up.”
Giving up is something neither team did on Friday.
After a pair of Sam Carpenter free throws gave the Rams a 52-45 lead with 1 minute, 48 seconds left in regulation, Bennett stormed out front with an 11-1 run.
Schumacher was the chief catalyst, draining an off-balance 3-pointer that somehow found net to make it 52-51 with 50 seconds left.
“He just threw it up there,” Tigers coach Aaron Riessen said. “He jumped, got off balance and threw it up there.”
Carpenter, who went 6-for-8 at the line in the fourth quarter, followed with a free throw to up Roaring Fork’s lead to 53-51.
Schumacher responded on the other end by whipping a cross-court pass to teammate Alejandro Ibarra, who nailed a corner 3 to put Bennett ahead.
A Roaring Fork turnover followed, and then a foul that sent Ibarra to the line, where he extended the Tigers’ lead to 56-53 with a pair of free throws at the 23-second mark.
“I thought we had it in regulation,” Reissen said.
But, with their raucous home crowd behind them, the Rams weren’t finished.
Dakotah Grett sunk a pair of freebies with 13 seconds left to make it 56-55 and then, two seconds later, Bennett’s Derek Rodriguez missed the front end of a one-and-one.
With new life, Carpenter drew a foul and stepped to the line for two. After a miss on the first free throw, Roaring Fork was charged with a technical for having too many players on the court while trying to make a substitution.
But, after a lengthy conference between officials, the technical was waved off.
“There were too many men on the court, but they put the ball into play,” Rams coach Larry Williams explained, “But it was a dead ball, so they shouldn’t have put the ball into play before they were sure there were five.”
The delay didn’t faze Carpenter, who squared the game with nine seconds left to force overtime.
Roaring Fork closed out the win in overtime by scoring six of the game’s final seven points.
“They’re gonna kill me,” Williams joked after his team’s sixth overtime game this season.
“We’re not afraid to take a game deep,” Strack-Loertscher said. “We’re going to have to play a whole lot better [against Weld Central].”
No. 10 Weld Central, which improved to 19-4 with a 64-33 win over Clear Creek in its Friday opener, is next for Strack-Loertscher and the seventh-seeded Rams, who improved to 16-7 with Friday’s win.
“They’ve got some good shooters,” Strack-Loertscher said. “They match up kind of like Coal Ridge. We’ve got an advantage in size, but they’re quick.”
Trae Moxley finished with 13 points for the Rams on Friday. Carpenter chipped in with 10.
Schumacher’s 18 led Bennett, which finished its season with a 14-10 record. Jesse Sterno added 15.
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