Rams can’t pull it off | PostIndependent.com

Rams can’t pull it off

Post Independent/Kara K. PearsonRoaring Fork's Rebecca Roeber, right, gets tangled up with Emily Walsh, of St. Mary's Academy, during Saturday's Class 3A regional championship game. The Rams lost, 38-35.

CARBONDALE ” A thrilling comeback came up three points shy as the Roaring Fork girls basketball team fell 38-35 to St. Mary’s Academy in the Anita Stites-Rowland Regional Tournament Championship Saturday.

It was an uphill battle for the Rams as they trailed 16-7 after the first quarter and 24-16 after the half. Roaring Fork came out in the third and missed 13 of 15 field goals, including three layups. The Rams ended the quarter down 15, and it looked as if they had lost their shooting ability.

Then, in the fourth quarter, thanks to Jessica Smeins and Celeste Comings, they found it.

Smeins sank a put-back to start the quarter, ending a Ram drought that had lasted more than five minutes. Then Celeste Comings made a jumper, and Smeins sank a 3 to bring the crowd at Roaring Fork to its feet.

They each hit one more shot, Comings buried a free throw and then Smeins posted up, went up strong, hit a layup, drew the foul and made the free throw after. The crowd went wild as Smeins and Comings had tied the game at 35 with 2:08 remaining.

“It was amazing. It was a team effort,” Smeins said of the fourth-quarter performance. “Things started to go our way, we had been shooting all night, and they started falling and things started to elevate from there.”

Over the next minute, St. Mary’s stepped up its defense, blocking a Sarah Armstrong shot and hitting the boards to prevent the Rams from having any second chances.

With 37 seconds left Roaring Fork sent Pirate Emily Walsh to the free-throw line, where she made 1 of 2 to score St. Mary’s first points of the quarter and put the Pirates up 36-35. Comings couldn’t get a layup to fall on the Rams’ next possession, and Walsh ended up back at the line shooting a one-and-one.

She missed. Smeins grabbed the rebound, but St. Mary’s tied up the ball and took it back after being awarded a jump ball with 5.7 seconds left. Roaring Fork called a timeout, and Cheney ordered his players to foul. Smeins did, without allowing a fraction of a second to tick away, and almost got a foul called on St. Mary’s.

“I though (the referee) was going to give it to us for a second,” Cheney said of Smeins’ foul. “(In the timeout) I said, ‘At this point in the season, we are going to beg, borrow and steal to get one.'”

And it almost worked, but Walsh went back to the free-throw line where she hit both shots. Whitney Campbell raced down the court and threw up a desperation 3 as the buzzer sounded. As the shot bounced off the backboard, Campbell fell to the ground looking at the referee and hoping for a foul, but no whistles were blown.

“They were great,” Cheney said of his team. “They have more heart as a group, and that was a hell of a fourth quarter. we had it within a whisker. They showed a lot of pride and a lot of heart.”

Comings, a sophomore, ended the game with seven points and four rebounds for Roaring Fork, but four Ram seniors stole the show. Smeins finished with seven rebounds and 10 points, all of which came in the second half, and Campbell also recorded 10 points to go alongside three assists. Wright and Armstrong each scored four, and they grabbed eight and three rebounds, respectively.

“This class of seniors is why I took this job last year,” a teary-eyed Cheney said after the game. “My daughter (Catie Cheney), Sarah, Whitney, Laura and Jess ” they are just incredible. You can’t describe how enjoyable they are to be around. I’m going to miss them.”

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