Coal Ridge defense is stout in sweep of Roaring Fork |

Coal Ridge defense is stout in sweep of Roaring Fork

Baron Zahuranec
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” “Defense” was the chant heard from the Coal Ridge girls basketball team’s huddle right before they took the court for the tipoff against the Roaring Fork Rams on Friday.

The pressure the Titans created on that end of the court helped them to a 62-23 win.

The Titans (8-4 overall, 6-3 in the 3A Western Slope League) opened the first quarter hitting four shots and two free throws to give them a 10-8 lead. Their full-court press caused five Rams’ turnovers in the first.

The Titans opened the game up in the second. They went on a 16-0 run to open the quarter, and ended the period with a 35-11 advantage.

Working the ball around the perimeter and into the post, the Titans converted a number of easy layup opportunities. At one point, Titan junior Tori Verdieck had back-to-back left handed layups while being surrounded by Rams.

Roaring Fork (0-10, 0-7) was aggressive on defense, forcing Coal Ridge to make extra passes. That ended up working against the Rams, though, because after all those passes, they worked themselves out of position and eventually gave up more easy shots on the weak side.

“We finally started doing better in the second quarter. We were more patient and passed better,” Titans coach Rick Schmitz said. “We have to continue to focus at that end (defensive). When that end is good, everything else seems to be good.”

The Titans gave up 11 points in the first half and 12 points in the second. Quick hands were in the passing lanes and, overall, Coal Ridge forced 30 turnovers.

Rams coach Nancy Zeigel said her team is battling injuries and just lost some other players to ineligibility. They were playing a mix of man and zone defense, but it was hard for them to keep up the intensity with limited bench help, she said.

Kaitlin Moeller had 12 points to pace the Titans, Verdieck had 10 points, and Kelly Romero finished with nine. Joey Clingan led the Rams with 11 points and Alli Zeigel added nine of her own.

The Titans go up against Hotchkiss next Thursday, and Roaring Fork faces Cedaredge today at 2:30 p.m.

“They’re a scrappy, quick team,” Nancy Zeigel said. “They move the ball well; we have to step up on D (defense).”

Just like the girls’ game, defense paved the way for the Coal Ridge boys in a 66-38 win over Roaring Fork.

“I really liked our press. It gave them fits,” Titans coach Paul Harvey said. “Offensively, we weren’t as selfish. We worked for easy baskets instead of living and dying by the three.”

Roaring Fork’s plan was simple enough: stop Andy Smedra from penetrating on the drive and not let Eric Schmitz have any open threes, Rams coach Larry Williams said before the game.

Smedra ended up with 14 points to lead the team, but wasn’t as effective on the dribble-drive as he’s been in recent games.

Schmitz hit only one three ” a buzzer beater from the corner right before halftime to put the Titans up 33-15. He had 12 points on the evening.

Schmitz is a guard who likes to get into the lane and dish a no-look pass to one of the post players or a cutting wingman. A couple times he made crisp passes, but unfortunately the intended targets weren’t quite ready.

“It’s kind of disappointing, but at the same time you can’t get too down,” Schmitz said of his passes that got through teammates’ hands. “We all need to keep our heads up and I can probably make better passes.”

The Titans (10-2, 7-2) jumped out to a 14-2 lead after one, and didn’t let the Rams (1-9, 1-6) score for nearly five minutes.

The second quarter was a little better for the Rams, as they put up 13 points, but they already put the Titans into double bonus with four minutes left until halftime. It didn’t help that Ryan Weimer didn’t get much playing time since he had his third personal foul just one minute into the second quarter.

In the second half, the Titans moved the ball well and looked for the open shot. They went 11-of-23, with four threes, to finish the game.

Weimer had eight points to lead the Rams, and Michael Black and Bryan Salinas each had seven points.

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