DC overpowers Rams
FORT COLLINS – The Roaring Fork boys basketball team shook off an ugly first quarter to give Denver Christian a game but came up short in its bid for a state basketball championship. The Rams fell to the Crusaders 56-45 in Saturday night’s Class 3A State championship game at Moby Arena.Trailing 19-6 entering the second quarter, the Rams went on a 17-4 tear to tie the game, 23-23, on an Aaron Markham 3-pointer with 2:35 to play in the half. Roaring Fork even claimed the lead for a brief stint in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t meant to be, as the Rams settled for second place.It was one place better than last year’s third-place showing, but it still wasn’t the championship Roaring Fork hoped for.”We came out of the gate slow and dug ourselves a hole, and it was just a little too much to come back from,” Roaring Fork coach Roger Walters said. Not that the Rams didn’t try their darndest.Denver Christian strung together a series of baskets to take a 29-23 lead at the intermission, but the Rams had made their point that they weren’t going away easily.Looking to chip away again at the Crusader lead, the Rams immediately took aim from three-point range to open the second half.Senior Nic Lough connected from beyond the arc just seconds into the third quarter to make it 29-26, and again at the 5:23 mark to make it 31-29.Denver Christian was nearly equal to the task, but Roaring Fork’s hot-shot sophomore Kyle Raaflaub also got into the action, knocking home a trey two minutes later to make it 35-32, as the Rams bettered the Crusaders 9-6 in the frame.”He’s a great shooter. That’s what his job was,” Walters said.Junior Christian Tena knotted it back up at 37-all with a basket underneath a minute into the fourth, and the Rams accomplished the unthinkable, taking their first lead of the game, 40-39, on Lough’s 3-pointer with 5:56 to play.Roaring Fork wouldn’t give up the lead easily for the next couple of minutes, as Raaflaub again connected from beyond the arc to make it 43-41.But Denver Christian’s Tristan Matthies took charge, nailing a pair of treys himself and leading the Crusaders on a 6-0 run that essentially put the game out of reach, as the Rams were forced into a foul game. The Crusaders hit five of six free throws down the stretch.”They put up a challenge, and I have to hand it to them. They’re very good competitors,” said Denver Christian coach Dick Katte of Roaring Fork, who cut the Crusaders’ 2004 state tournament bid short in the 3A Regional finals in Carbondale.”Yeah, I certainly thought of that today, but there was no revenge,” Katte said. “I have to give our guys credit. Their will is strong, and they just were not going to let themselves get beat.”Matthies and his twin brother Cameron scored 16 and 15 points respectively, as the Crusaders won their first state basketball title since 1983.Lough paced the Rams with 16 points, and pulled down seven rebounds. Markham finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, and Raaflaub finished with nine points. The Rams concluded the season with a 21-4 record.Friday’s semifinalsRoaring Fork 50, Yuma 43FORT COLLINS – Roaring Fork emerged the 50-43 victors in a defensive battle over the upstart Yuma Indians in Friday night’s semifinals at Moby Arena on the CSU campus. Yuma (16-11) knocked off top seed Kent Denver in Thursday’s quarterfinals.”This is the state championships; it’s what everybody dreams about,” said Roaring Fork junior Christian Tena, who scored 10 points and had nine rebounds in the winning effort – and on a bum foot to boot.Four days ago, Tena had a 2-inch screw surgically inserted into his left foot, after suffering a hairline fracture in last weekend’s regional championship in Carbondale.”Yesterday, I wasn’t mentally prepared and came out a little slow,” Tena said of Thursday’s 76-60 quarterfinal win over Faith Christian, in which he fouled out. “This year, we had just one goal: to show what Rams basketball is all about.”A low-scoring opening quarter saw Roaring Fork and Yuma tied 8-all at the end of the frame, but the Rams were able to open a 23-18 lead by halftime.The Indians’ Kelly Seward knocked home a 3-pointer to open the third, but was answered immediately by Rams’ senior Nic Lough, who drained one of his three 3-pointers of the night. Yuma outscored Roaring Fork 14-9 in the period to tie it 32-all headed into the fourth.”They kept up with us the whole game; they’re a good team,” said Lough, who led all scorers with 22 points, including 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. “Coach told me to keep shooting, and I just kept shooting.”Yuma had a shot, trailing by one, 41-40, with 3:25 to play, but the Rams’ free throws down the stretch proved the difference. Roaring Fork was 10 of 12 from the charity stripe on the night.The Indians were led by forward Michael Lebsack with 14 points, while Seward finished with 11.
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The Glenwood Springs-Rifle sports rivalry goes way back for GSHS baseball coach and former Demons multi-sport student-athlete Eric Nieslanik.