Four could be the magic number |

Four could be the magic number

Joelle MilholmGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

CARBONDALE – Practice is over.Coaches are packing up the equipment, while managers and junior varsity players file out of the gym.But members of the Roaring Fork boys basketball varsity team are still there.Tyler and Trevor Hunt practice free throws.Kade Gianinetti works on his inside passes to Torrey Udall, who is posting up over and over again.Kyle Raaflaub stands outside the perimeter, repeatedly working on knocking down 3s.

That’s just how it is at Roaring Fork – there’s an obvious, unrelenting love for the game.They’ll stay there until head coach Roger Walters turns off the lights and tells them to go home.”They like to play. I’ll end up having to kick them out,” Walters said.It’s a work ethic that’s unbelievably successful. Now in his fourth season with the Rams, Walters and his players have won 85 games and only lost nine. This year the team is 16-1, and it has won 14 games in a row, but Walters won’t take the credit.”You gotta have the horses to win, bottom line,” he said. “We have been really blessed with great athletes the last four years, and this senior class is really special.”The aforementioned starters for the team have been together for four years now, not only on the basketball court, but on the football field as well. The large amount of time together has created a unique bond.

“They are a real close-knit bunch. Their chemistry is great this year, they don’t care who scores, they just like to play and succeed,” Walters said of the 2006-07 squad.”We kinda jell like a family,” Trevor Hunt added. “Four years together, that’s a long time.”The Rams have won three Class 3A Western Slope League Championships in a row, conquered three straight district brackets and made the trip to the state tournament in Fort Collins three consecutive years as well. This year may be the year when the team can erase the runner-up in front of their state championship title – after all, the four seniors (Gianinetti, the Hunts and Raaflaub) are the first class of players to spend four years under Walters’ tutelage. “These guys are great because they’ve been brainwashed for four years. They don’t know any other way to play. Four years in, they are not thinking, they are just reacting,” Walters said. “It is really fun because we can put a lot of stuff in and they absorb it really quickly.”The team fully expects to be back at state again this year, but Walters emphasizes taking things one step at a time.

“We cover the basics every day,” Gianinetti said. “The little things, that’s what coach tells us every day.””Our goals are more like playing each possession really well,” Walters added. “If we do that, the outcome will always take care of itself.”Part of that plan is to play shut-down defense. It’s an aspect of the game the players say they spend the majority of practice time on. It shows in the games as Roaring Fork’s opponents are averaging less than 38 points per contest.”He strives on defense and hard work,” Trevor Hunt said. “We work hard in practice and it carries into games.” No matter what the Rams’ record is, or how probable it appears the Rams can make another run for the state title, with two league games left in the season, Walters refuses to look too far ahead.”Everybody gets pretty fired up to play us and we’ve got to be at our best to take care of business and win league,” he said. “Then we’ll see what happens from there.”

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