Gunnison holds off scrappy Roaring Fork boys team, 74-52; Rams girls dominant in 70-20 win
Post Independent correspondent
Head coach Tony Gross and his Roaring Fork boys’ basketball team have been away from the friendly confines of their home court since the season-opening Brenda Patch Tournament in early December. Friday night in Carbondale, the Rams got a chance for some much-needed home cooking in the 3A Western Slope League opener against a Gunnison Cowboys team that entered the contest sporting a 7-1 overall record.
With flashy guard Hunter Wood spearheading an opening 8-0 scoring run, forcing a quick Roaring Fork timeout, the Cowboys started out fast and finished with a flurry to spoil the Rams homecoming with a 74-52 victory on Friday night.
Wood finished as the game’s leading scorer with 25 points, including a first quarter slam dunk. He consistently answered Roaring Fork scoring runs with timely baskets to keep Gunnison in control of the league contest, especially in the early going, as the Cowboys took a 24-15 lead after one quarter of play.
Using a 15-9 scoring advantage in the second period, the Rams fought back to cut the Cowboy lead to just 33-30 at intermission. Junior guard Graham Pietch hit a driving layup and a 3-pointer to key the Roaring Fork scoring run.
Post player Manny Santana scored in the paint and Mason Smith hit a 3-pointer for the Rams, who had now taken back the momentum from the Cowboys at halftime.
But it was Wood who came out hot for Gunnison in the third period by scoring on a mid-range jump shot and then taking the ball hard to the hoop for a basket, as the Cowboys jumped ahead 45-36 with 4:10 to go in the quarter.
Tristan Maker hit a couple of charity tosses for the Rams, but Gunnison post player Aidan Hulbert scored two baskets off the glass, as the Cowboys once again pushed their lead to double digits at 50-39.
Gunnison would stretch the final margin of victory by outscoring Roaring Fork 24-12 in the final period of play.
A 3-pointer by Gunnison’s Pascual Lerma and a spinning, off balance layup by Wood helped to propel the Cowboys to the conference-opening win on the road.
“We just couldn’t keep them off of the rim early on,” Coach Gross said. “We just needed to be more patient on the offensive end at times, but these kids made some good progress this week.
“They never hang their heads. They are starting to believe in each other and figure out their roles. They know losing is not fun, so they will keep working hard.”
Gunnison (8-1, 1-0 WSL) was aided by 12 points from Hulbert, and Braden Wood contributed 11 points for the Cowboys.
Pietch had 17 points to lead Roaring Fork (1-10, 0-1 WSL). Frankie Harrington helped the Ram cause with 10 points.
Roaring Fork 70, Gunnison 20
In the girls game, the host Rams (6-4) opened a 6-0 lead to start and never looked back, building a 38-12 advantage at the half and dominating from beginning to end.
Junior Maya Lingren led all scorers, with 17 points for the Rams in their 3A Western Slope League opener. Junior Letey Crownhart added 12 points to the winning effort, and senior Emily Broadhurst had 9.
“We’re definitely going to have a lot of tougher games going forward,” first-year head coach Juan Quintero said. But he likes the Carbondale girls chances in the competitive WSL.
“We’re really just trying to change the style of play for the Roaring Fork girls … kind of a fast pace, and hard defense,” he said. “It’s a style that they haven’t played before, and a fun way for them to play, as well.”
Quintero said he looks toward Grand Valley, Delta, Cedaredge and Basalt as the teams to beat in order to win the league this season.
“If the girls play and move the ball like they did today, and run transition with solid in defense, we should be OK against anybody,” he said.
Next up for both Roaring Fork varsity squads is a home date with Delta next Friday, Jan. 17.
Post Independent Managing Editor John Stroud contributed to this report.
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