Rams boys claim second straight regional title
CARBONDALE – Way back in early December the Rams lost their first three games of the season. The loses were against three of the top 4A teams in the state, but three losses was still three times the number of defeats the Roaring Fork boys suffered all last basketball season.There were a few whispers of doubt whether this season’s Rams could match last year’s third-place finish at state.Roaring Fork hasn’t lost since those first three games and, after a convincing 76-49 defeat over Greeley’s University High School in the Steve Hill Regional championship game, the whispers have changed tone. Now the question is: Can the Rams can go deeper than last year?”This has been our goal the whole year,” senior point guard Aaron Markham said. “A lot of people didn’t think we’d be here after starting 0-3, but this is nothing short of what we expected.”I think we got everybody back on the bandwagon.”And the bandwagon’s next stop is the Great Eight round of the Class 3A State Championships Thursday at Moby Arena in Fort Collins.
As has often been the case this season, the Rams’ two seniors held the reins Saturday against University.Nic Lough posted a game-high 31 points, doing damage from inside and outside. Markham posted a double-double with 19 points and 11 assists, to go along with three steals.Logic would say that a team with two long-armed starters measuring 6-foot-5 or better (Spencer Rich and Luke Schauermann) would try to pound the ball inside against the smaller Rams, who have just one starter taller than 6 feet (Lough at 6-4).Instead, University got into a shootout with the Rams. And if you’re going to go shot-for-shot with Roaring Fork, an abundance of ammunition is a necessity.Buoyed by five 3-pointers in the first half, the Bulldogs trailed just 32-27 at halftime. In the second half University ran short of bullets and stopped getting some of the rolls on the rim that kept it close in the first half.
“It’s the story of the year. Every team comes out against us hot off the bat,” Lough said. “We came out (in the second half) and kept doing what we were doing in the first half. They cooled off and we heated up.””We knew with our style, and the size of their kids, they couldn’t hang with us the whole game,” Markham added. “Eventually we were going to break away, and that’s what happened.”Buoyed by two of Lough’s four threes in the game, the Rams opened the third quarter with an 11-2 run for a 43-31 advantage. All that was left was to waiting for the right moment for Roger Walters to pull his two seniors off their home floor for the final time. The moment came with 1:46 left in the game. Lough exited first after Markham hit a free throw with 1:46 left in the game. The point guard buried the next shot from the charity stripe and left immediately after, as the two seniors drew the loudest cheers of the night.”I wanted to pull them off late so each one would have his deserved hand from the community,” Walters said. “They’ve both done so much for this program and for this community.”Chris Price and Patrick Roche led University with 12 and 10 points, respectively. The Bulldogs finished the season 14-11.
Roaring Fork (20-3) faces Faith Christian (20-4) Thursday at Fort Collins. The Rams could be short-handed for the trip. Junior starting forward Christian Tena injured his foot early in the game and is questionable for Thursday.Friday’s semifinalsRoaring Fork 62, Bayfield 42Lough scored 18 of his game-high 25 points in the first half to put the visiting Bayfield Wolverines away by halftime.Lough confused Bayfield’s defense by draining home four 3-pointers in the first half to give the Rams a commanding 38-18 advantage at intermission.Tena played a key role with 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds. In the other boys semifinal contest, University downed Holy Family 64-50.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.