League title on the line tonight
GSPI Sports Editor
It’s what regular-season finales should be all about ” a battle for the league title between a pair of archrivals ranked in the top 10, featuring two of the state’s top post players.
It’s no surprise the Roaring Fork and Basalt girls basketball teams are knotted at the top of the 3A Western Slope League and playing for the crown tonight at Roaring Fork High School.
The 6:30 p.m. matchup is identical to last season’s final regular season game and it’s what everyone predicted at the outset of the 2003-04 campaign.
Roaring Fork (12-1 WSL, 17-1 overall) is ranked No. 1 in the state by the Denver Post, while Basalt (12-1, 15-3) sits in the fourth spot in the poll. In the Rocky Mountain News, the two teams are ranked fourth and seventh, respectively.
“I think it’s just fabulous that we have two teams on the Western Slope in the top 10,” Roaring Fork coach Jacky Gaddis said.
While trailing in the polls, Basalt has history on its side. The Longhorns have won the league title the last three years and also handed Roaring Fork its only loss of the season back in December. Also, the Rams haven’t been on the winning side of the rivalry during Gaddis’ three-year tenure.
“We haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here, and I’m pretty sure maybe one or two years past that,” Gaddis said.
Two of the key players in the contest ” Basalt’s Lauren Redfern and Roaring Fork’s Tarn Udall ” reside primarily in the paint. In their first meeting this season Redfern ripped off a school-record 34 points and added four blocks and six rebounds in the ‘Horns 62-51 victory.
Udall was no slouch either, hitting for 20 points and coming up one rebound short of a double-double.
Both players are ranked in the state’s top 15 in scoring with Redfern at No. 6 with 18.1 points a game and Udall averaging 15.3. Udall is also the leading rebounder in Class 3A with 12.6 per game.
But Gaddis sees it less of a matchup than two great players who happen to play the same position.
“They are two totally different players,” Gaddis said. “Tarn is a rebounding machine and Lauren is going to go pop a three-pointer. They are just two totally different players.
“It’s the rest of the team that makes the difference.”
The Rams’ Carly Velasquez has proven she has the ability to score from outside or off the dribble. Whitney Campbell and Megan Zeigel are also good for double digits when needed. And Campbell will likely get some extra minutes with backup point guard Ashley Jensen out with a sprained ankle.
The ‘Horns counter with point guard Deanna Spracher and Brittney Pollock, who had 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the earlier meeting between the two teams. Rochelle Moebius is also a force scoring and on the boards.
“The goal has been, from day one, to win league,” Gaddis said. “It happens to be that we’re going to have to win against Basalt. It’s going to be a good game and I know the fans are going to be there.”
While the boys game between Roaring Fork and Basalt doesn’t have the implications of the girls game, the rivalry is no less heated.
Roaring Fork, ranked second by the Rocky Mountain News and fourth by the Denver Post, enters the game with the league title clinched and a perfect 18-0 overall record.
Basalt (5-8, 5-13) is coming off a disappointing loss to Hotchkiss on Tuesday and is battling Gunnison for the fifth playoff seed.
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