Consistency Factor: Roaring Fork hoops teams hope to retain their past success
ROARING FORK HIGH WINTER SPORTS
Head coach: Larry Williams (sixth season)
Last season: 20-4 overall, 15-1 Class 3A Western Slope League (first place), lost to Faith Christian in Class 3A regional title game.
Key returners: Jack Fisher, Sr., 6-2, F; Ben Carpenter, Jr., 6-0, G; Dwayne Yin, Sr., 6-3, F; Freezy Mbanguza, Sr., 6-3, F; Timmy Nielsen, Sr., 6-2, G.
Others to watch: Ben Jenkins, Sr., 5-9, G; Ray Acuna, Jr., 6-0, F.
Outlook: The Rams lost two big parts of their offense from last year in Trae Moxley and Dakotah Grett to graduation, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t set their sights high. “Our goal every year is to win a league championship,” Coach Larry Williams said. “We want to maintain where we finished.” ... Roaring Fork will have a different look this year without the 6-foot, 6-inch Moxley in the paint. The running game was a big part of the Rams’ offense last season, and Williams figures that will continue. ... Three players on last year’s roster saw significant time on the floor. This means the Rams will put an emphasis on learning prior to league play, which starts very quickly after the season-opening Brenda Patch Tournament, Dec. 5 and 6, as the Rams will play Coal Ridge on Dec. 13 at home.
Head coach: Kirk Cheney (seventh season)
Last season: 13-10 overall, 11-5 Class 3A Western Slope League (fourth place), lost to Eaton in first round of Class 3A regional tournament.
Key returners: Toni Gross, Sr., 5-6, PG; Maddie Nieslanik, Sr., 5-9, PF; Daniella Santana, Sr., 5-0, F; Autumn Grandberry, Sr., 5-8, F; Emily Fisher, Jr., 5-7, SG.
Others to watch: Kristen Joiner, Jr., 5-8, F.
Outlook: Coach Kirk Cheney is impressed with his team’s work ethic, and he also figures the Rams will be quicker than they were last season. “These girls have a great attitude and are progressing every day,” he said. “It’s nice to see them pushing each other.” ... Cheney also said the Rams lost the “intimidation factor” of the 6-foot-1 Gianinetti twins, Hattie and Megan, to graduation. That said, the first part of the season could be a sign of the team’s toughness. ... Nieslanik’s 7.8 points and 6.9 rebounds a game from last season are both team highs among the Rams’ returning players. Grandberry shot 45 percent from the field (57-for-126) last season, which was a team high last year.
CARBONDALE — Roaring Fork High School’s boys and girls basketball teams aren’t focusing on what they lost from last season. Instead, they’re optimistic about what they have for the coming season.
Both squads produced solid campaigns in the 2012-13 season. The Roaring Fork boys won their first league championship since 2007, then won the league tournament at Palisade High School to host a regional tournament. Roaring Fork’s girls didn’t win a league title, but they earned some quality wins before eventually losing to state power Eaton in the first round of their regional tournament.
The goal that both teams have is to maintain that level of success — and maybe improve on it — without some of the key players who graduated.
Suffice to say, both teams are pretty hopeful.
“I would expect us to be in the mix again this season,” seventh-year Roaring Fork girls coach Kirk Cheney said. “But we do have a tough league. Our biggest thing right now is just to take care of ourselves and not worry about what anyone else is doing. Things will hopefully fall into place if we do that.”
The Roaring Fork girls have a lot of returning players from a team that finished fourth in the 3A Western Slope League standings and third in the league tournament at Palisade. That means experience, and the Rams’ four seniors — Toni Gross, Maddie Nieslanik, Daniella Santana and Autumn Grandberry — had a lot of floor time last year. Nieslanik returns as a first-team, all-WSL award winner.
For the Roaring Fork boys, Jack Fisher, Ben Carpenter and Dwayne Yin bring the most experience from last year’s team to the upcoming season. The Rams won’t be nearly as big as they were a year ago, when they had 6-foot,6-inch Trae Moxley playing in the paint, but Roaring Fork plans to utilize their quickness as much as possible.
“We’re not going to be a team that will pound it down low or something,” Williams said. “You’ll probably see us run a little more, and that fits into what we tried to do last year: to get as close to the basket as possible.”
The Roaring Fork boys and girls will begin their seasons with the annual Brenda Patch Tournament at the Roaring Fork High School gym. The Roaring Fork girls open with Steamboat Springs at 6 p.m. Dec. 6, followed by the boys’ opener against Steamboat at 7:30 p.m.
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