Boys hoops: Rams nail down upset win over Sailors

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff

CARBONDALE – Matthias Weissl hit his first free throw with 8.4 seconds remaining, turned around and flashed a fist pump. He knew he and his Roaring Fork boys basketball teammates had an upset in the bag.

Weissl, an exchange student from Austria playing in his first American game, went on to drain the second free throw to put the finishing touch on a 57-49 win over Steamboat Springs in the teams’ Brenda Patch Tournament opener on Friday.

Behind a game-best 24 points from the Austrian senior and in front of an energized home crowd, the Rams overcame a sloppy first half to down Class 4A’s No. 4-ranked team according to RockyPreps.

Roaring Fork is near the top of its class, though, as well, at No. 6 in the RockyPreps Class 3A preseason poll.

Six-foot-8 senior Torrey Udall, who poured in 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, appeared relieved to have escaped with the win.

“That’s a great team,” he said. “It was a big win, especially with them being a ranked 4A school. Those kids are talented. We still have a lot of room for improvement, though. We’ve got a lot to learn.”

The Rams, who graduated four starters from last year’s state tournament-qualifying team, stumbled through the opening minutes, falling behind 13-9 after one quarter. They picked up the pace in the second to force a 24-all tie at the break.

Roaring Fork coach Roger Walters chalked the slow start up to the defensive-minded nature of the two teams.

“Any time you get two teams that play really good defense together this early in the year, it’s going to be ugly,” he said. “Defenses are always further ahead of the offense this time of the year.”

Walters and the Rams more or less remedied their first-half offensive woes in traditional Roaring Fork style – with the passing game.

“We shared the ball better in the second half,” Walters said. “We were making six, seven, eight passes.”

It worked, as Roaring Fork slowly pulled away. The hosts Rams, breaking in a new gym, built its lead to as big as nine points (44-35) in the fourth quarter.

But Steamboat didn’t go easily. A Blake Weinstein 3-pointer brought the Sailors to within three (50-47) with 1:14 remaining and Roaring Fork needed a 5-0 game-closing run to secure the win.

Perhaps the most exciting play down the stretch came with 26 seconds remaining.

Weissl caught a deep inbound pass in the Rams’ offensive zone, made a move toward the basket, dribbled back out and then found a slashing Oscar Alvarado with an over-the-shoulder pass for an easy layup. That made it 54-49 and essentially served as the nail in the Sailors’ coffin.

On top of his 24 points, Weissl added five assists, two steals and seven rebounds. So far, his United States experience – both scholastically and athletically – has been top-notch for the senior.

“I just love this team,” he said. “We have really good chemistry. I didn’t know anything about the school when I came here. I love the basketball team and the coach.”

Aaron Calkins led Steamboat with 21 points, nailing three 3-pointers in the process. Michael Vandahl added 14 points.

The Sailors return the Roaring Fork floor today in a 2:30 p.m. showdown with Coal Ridge, while the Rams take on Battle Mountain at 5:30 p.m.

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