Coal Ridge rolls to comeback win over host Roaring Fork
Rams blow 11-point lead to go to 1-1
Coal Ridge battled back from 11 down late in the second quarter of Tuesday night’s 3A league matchup at Roaring Fork to be able to savor the 58-50 win on the bus ride back home to New Castle.
After finding themselves down 7-2 early on, the host Rams of Carbondale battled back to take a one-point lead to close the first quarter, 13-12.
A few too many gambles for the Titans, and some hot shooting by Roaring Fork senior Graham Pietch and sophomore River Byrne gave the home team a 27-16 lead inside four minutes and a 32-22 halftime advantage.
But Roaring Fork head coach Tony Gross knew it wasn’t nearly enough.
“We were excited with where we were at halftime, but I didn’t think we played very well,” Gross said. “Coal Ridge is a great program, and pretty much everybody in the league looks up to them.”
Disciplined play by the experienced Titans squad and some strong words of encouragement from veteran coach Paul Harvey proved lethal for the host Rams in the second half.
“Roaring Fork played really well, and they were hitting shots,” Harvey said. “I called a timeout in the second quarter and kind of jumped on our guys a bit. I told them to just take a breath, and not be so wound up … just play basketball.”
The Rams started strong to open the second half, but breath easy the Titans did and by the end of the third quarter it was Roaring Fork that was losing breath, clinging to a 43-41 lead after Coal Ridge senior Moises Contreras caught fire.
The senior was held to just two points in the first half, but would ultimately end the night with 15 points, including several clutch free throws down the stretch.
Coal Ridge grabbed its first lead since the opening minutes just inside 5 minutes to play, when senior Karsen DuBois grabbed a steal and was fouled on the made layup to put the Titans up 49-48. They never looked back from there.
Junior Eddie Salazar was also solid from the line, making six of six free throws in the final 16 minutes to help secure the Titans win, and scoring 11 points on the night.
“I said to the kids in the locker room that the bench really stepped up and contributed,” Harvey said, citing the efforts of seniors Daniel Sanchez, Jack Price and Irvin Ortega, along with junior Johnny Bencomo.
“Every night’s going to be a little different for us, so we go with the guys who are playing well down the stretch,” Harvey said.
Gross said he wasn’t disappointed in his players. “They gave me good effort, and they always do,” he said. But turnovers killed the Rams in the second half, Gross said.
“Hats off to (Coal Ridge,” he said. “They’ve been in that situation more than us, and they know how to win those games.”
Pietch and fellow senior Julian Alcantara led the Rams in scoring with 11 points each, Byrne had 10 and senior Alex Jaquez added nine.
Next up for the Titans (2-0) is a Thursday trip to Montrose, while the Rams (1-1) have another league matchup at Basalt, also on Thursday.
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When Moffat County High School football started 2A West League play, they did so with a victory over a team they hadn’t beaten since 2015.