Aspen takes 3A District 2 crown from Roaring Fork
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PALISADE ” For the first time in four years, the Rams didn’t get to celebrate at the end of the Class 3A District 2 Tournament. They didn’t get the championship plaque accompanied with the treasured net.
Instead, Roaring Fork had to settle for the runner-up plaque after falling 56-45 to Aspen on Saturday in the District 2 championship. It was the Rams’ third loss to the Skiers, who were perfect through Western Slope League and district play, this season.
It wasn’t for a lack of effort on the part of the Rams, more a lack of execution. On a night when a lid seemed to be covering its basket, Roaring Fork hit 17 of 47 attempts from the field ” equally only 36 percent. The Rams couldn’t hit 3-pointers, missed layups, had jumpers go in and out and went only seven of 16 from the free-throw line.
“We didn’t play incredibly smart in the first half, but at least our effort was there for 32 minutes, which is all you can ask of them. Some nights it is going to go, and some nights it’s not,” said Roaring Fork head coach Roger Walters. “You gotta give some of that to Aspen. They did a great job. (Coach) Steve (Ketchum) does a great job working with them. They did a good job and deserve to win ” hats off to them.”
Roaring Fork, who was also hindered by turnovers, was cold from the start, scoring only six points in the first quarter while Aspen put up 18. It was an uphill battle for the Rams the rest of the way, but they did battle.
Trailing 43-29 going into the fourth quarter, the Rams got some shots to fall and cut the Skiers’ lead to 49-43 with 2:45 to go in the contest. Aspen then hit seven of their final 10 free throws, while three different Rams missed 3-pointers in the final minute to eliminate the threat of a comeback.
“I felt like they really matured tonight, they didn’t lose their composure,” Ketchum said. “They played great together and when Roaring Fork made the inevitable run, things started to change, you dread it, but you know it’s going to happen, I thought they just really stayed cool and got it together again and did all the right things at the end.”
With a large contingent of Aspen and Roaring Fork fans filling the bleachers at Palisade High School, every point drew echoing cheering making for a dramatic atmosphere ” especially when things got close at the end.
“I knew it was going to be like a title fight and you are in round 15 and the only question is can we drill the knockout punch and they did,” Ketchum said. “I was so proud of them.”
A number of players stepped up for Aspen with 6-foot-8 Cory Parker scoring 14, Brian Westerlind finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Josh Gartner and Michael Taylor scored eight and seven, respectively. The Skiers, who added the 2008 District 2 Championship to their 2008 WSL title, will now get a No. 1 regional seed and host their regional tournament.
Roaring Fork, who was led by Torrey Udall’s 14 points and 12 from Alex Hernandez and 10 from Walker Abrahamovich, will get a the No. 2 seed from the district and be on the road for regionals ” for the first time in four years. Walters is hoping the change will give the Rams some motivation.
“The kids are smart, they know the season is not over,” he said. “You are only as good as your last game so now we have something to prove to ourselves, so we’ll get on a bus and go somewhere and give it our best effort.”
The regional brackets will be released by the Colorado High School Activities Association today.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.