Rams boys team shuts down Aspen to claim District crown
GSPI Sports Editor
RIFLE ” The Roaring Fork Rams proved the old adage true, defense does win championships.
And, if they continue to play both ends of the floor like they did in Saturday’s Class 3A boys District 2 basketball tournament title game against Aspen, it may not be the last championship this season for the Rams.
Roaring Fork held Aspen without a point for the first 11 minutes, 25 seconds of the championship contest and didn’t allow the Skiers to score a field goal until there was less a minute remaining in the first half as the Rams rolled to a 72-31 victory.
“That was pretty solid, wasn’t it,” said Roaring Fork head coach Roger Walters of his squad’s defensive play. “It’s as good as we’ve played all year defensively.”
“Every game Coach writes on the board ‘Defense,’ senior Dan Markoya said. “It all starts with defense, and it couldn’t be more true with this team.
“We were definitely out (to cover) Moss Schermerhorn, and Christian Tena definitely set the tone,” he added. “It’s frustrating when Christian is guarding you, he’s probably one of the best in the state. I’m just glad he’s on my team.”
Schermerhorn finished with just five points in the game and Tena led the team with 11 rebounds and five steals.
The district title gives the Rams the luxury of home-court advantage for next weekend’s regionals, not to mention Western Slope League bragging rights.
“It hasn’t happened in forever,” said Markoya of winning the WSL crown. “I know I wasn’t alive the last time it happened, and that’s a good achievement.”
Markoya got the Rams rolling with a three-point bomb to open the game. By the end of the first quarter Markoya hit two more treys and 13 points and Roaring Fork was up 20-0.
The Rams kept pouring it on in the second quarter and were up 33-0 before Aspen got its first point of the night ” Schermerhorn’s 1-of-2 trip to the free-throw line.
Roaring Fork continued to build its lead to 43-1 before Aspen’s Brock Strasbourger netted a running jumper in the lane for the Skiers’ first field goal of the night with 38 seconds remaining in the half.
After another Rams basket, David Porter gave the skiers their second field goal of the half for the 45-5 intermission score.
Markoya paced the Rams with 27 points, 24 of which came in the first half. Nic Lough and Adam Joiner scored 11 and 10 respectively.
“It definitely makes us feel good that we went into the district tournament and did what we did,” Markoya said. “We played together and basically everybody scored.”
In all, 10 different Rams players posted points.
“It’s really nice to be playing our best basketball at this time of the year,” Walters said.
RIFLE ” After having their two regular-season meetings decided by two points, it’s no surprise that Saturday’s battle between the Basalt Longhorns and the Cedaredge Bruins for the fifth and final regional spot came down to a bucket.
But this time the other team won.
Basalt ” which lost both meetings this season ” got out to an early lead, then held off a fourth-quarter charge from Cedaredge to notch a 42-40 Class 3A boys District 2 tournament victory and a trip to regionals.
Basalt led 26-16 at halftime, but both teams went cold in the third quarter as the teams combined for just seven points.
In the fourth the offenses began working again. Cedaredge outscored Basalt 20-13, but came up short.
Cody Burkholder and Darren Duroux tallied 13 and 10 points, respectively, for Basalt. Cedaredge’s Karl Wicklund led all scorers with 14 points.
In the third-place game, Eagle Valley downed Gunnison 59-43.
The top five teams advance to regionals. Seedings and brackets are expected to be released this afternoon.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.