Small ball lifts Roaring Fork past Coal Ridge

Jeff Caspersen
Post independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado – Like a football team with a late lead, Roaring Fork’s boys basketball team went into clock-eating mode.

Swinging the ball around the perimeter and patiently picking their moments on offense, the Rams managed to milk out the clock on a 50-43 win at Coal Ridge on Friday.

“That was the key today,” Roaring Fork big man Jake Strack-Loertscher said. “We really swung the ball around. We didn’t focus on just Jake [Hawkins] or Ben [Rodriguez] in the post. We got the ball out to Arick [Zeigel], Dalton [Handy] and Clay [Gross]. They were hitting shots. That helped us a lot.”

Zeigel drained a couple of big 3-pointers in the third quarter to help keep the defense honest. He finished the night with a team-high 14 points.

Even though they shared the offensive load more than they have in any game this season, Hawkins and Strack-Loertscher still put up big numbers down low.

Hawkins finished with nine points and nine rebounds, while Strack-Loetscher chipped in with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Roaring Fork held a 30-18 edge on the boards.

“You know, we’re not the biggest, thickest lineup,” Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey said. “We really have to work hard. We have to work on boxing out on every play, on the little, fundamental things. Every game is a work in progress.”

After sneaking into the locker room with a 24-22 lead at halftime, Harvey’s Titans seemingly had the Rams on the ropes early in the third quarter.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Brandon Schlegel and Nathan Terrin put Coal Ridge up 30-22 less than two minutes into the second half.

That lead didn’t last long, though, as Roaring Fork countered with a 16-0 run to go up 38-30. Zeigel scored 10 of those points. Hawkins had four and Strack-Loertscher two.

“They stopped our big runs,” Harvey said. “We didn’t stop theirs.”

Coal Ridge rattled off five unanswered points to close out the third, but never could get over the hump in the final frame.

Andy Smedra led the Titans with 15 points. Terrin had nine.

Both teams were seeking their first win. Each owned an 0-3 record entering the night’s action.

“The shoulders are feeling a little lighter with the monkey off our back,” Rams coach Larry Williams said. “We weren’t as one-dimensional tonight. It was nice to see the guards step up and play some small ball.”

Roaring Fork will take to its home court this afternoon against Olathe. Coal Ridge will host Gunnison. Both games tip off at 4 p.m.

Titan girls coast to lopsided win

With its defense setting up easy baskets on the offensive end, Coal Ridge’s girls rolled to a 71-30 win over Roaring Fork on Friday.

Chasity Gonzales led the Titans with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting. She was 4-of-8 on 3-pointers.

Tori Verdieck had 13 points and six rebounds, while Carly Cloninger chipped in with 12 points and seven boards. Sam Wilson added 10 points and six rebounds and Brianna Rhodes scored seven points for Coal Ridge, which improved to 2-2 overall and to 1-1 in the 3A Western Slope League.

The Titans put the game away early, forcing 15 turnovers and outscoring the Rams 26-4 in the first quarter. Roaring Fork hit at a 1-for-10 clip from the floor in the quarter.

“Our defense set the tone,” Coal Ridge coach Rick Schmitz said. “That’s our focus everyday. We feel strongly that it can create offense.”

Gonzales shared an outlook similar to her coach’s.

“I felt that our defense really led us to the win,” she said. “I thought our defense is why we got all the shots we did. When we play good on defense, it always gets us going on the offensive end, like steals, fast breaks, stuff like that.”

Alli Zeigel led the Rams, now 0-4 overall and 0-2 in league, with 13 points.

“We just didn’t come ready to play,” Rams coach Nancy Zeigel said. “We’ve got to move on. We play Olathe [today].”

While the Rams play the Pirates today at home, Coal Ridge will host Gunnison. Both games start at 2:30 p.m.

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