Rams erase 13-point fourth quarter deficit to knock off Falcons to open Brenda Patch tourney | PostIndependent.com

Rams erase 13-point fourth quarter deficit to knock off Falcons to open Brenda Patch tourney

Josh Carney
Post Independent

High school basketball is back on the Western Slope, and the Roaring Fork Rams' boys basketball team didn't waste any time adding some excitement to the new season, utilizing a halfcourt trap and a fullcourt press in the second half Friday night on Day One of the Brenda Patch Tournament in Carbondale, rallying from a 13-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to pick up a 62-57 win over the visiting DSST: Byers Falcons.

"We were hoping to play good man-to-man defense tonight, but we just weren't aggressive enough," said Larry Williams, Roaring Fork's long-time boys basketball head coach. "So we went into our halfcourt and fullcourt defenses and Leo [Loya] gave us great energy up top, and every else followed suit; it was contagious."

Roaring Fork struggled with turnovers and missed shots in the first half as the Falcons raced into halftime with a 35-22 at the half.

Coming out of the break though, the Rams made the switch defensively, befuddling the Falcons attack. The Rams opened the second half on a 6-0 run as seniors Ronald Clemente, Joe Salinas, and Aidan Sloan hit shots in the paint, making it a 35-28 game. Byers then pushed the lead back up to 46-32 minutes later thanks to 3-point plays by freshman Cash Garcia and sophomore Julian Buerk. A layup at the end of the third quarter by Loya pulled the Rams to within 13 points at 48-35, setting up the dramatic rally in the final quarter.

Opening up the fourth quarter, Salinas hit a putback in the lane through contact, capping off the 3-point play with a free throw to make it 48-38. Senior Oscar Miranda then hit a 3-pointer following a Byers turnover to make it 48-41, before adding two free throws to make it a 5-point game at 48-43.

Sloan and Byers' Austin Hurd traded layups before Miranda drilled a corner 3-pointer, pulling the Rams to within 2 points at 50-48.

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Layups by Loya and Clemente later made it 53-52 Byers before the Rams took control with a Loya layup and two free throws from Salinas with 2:58 left in the game, giving Roaring Fork a 56-55 lead. From there, the Rams cashed in at the free throw line as Salinas and Clemente went 2-for-2, while Miranda split a pair. A bucket from Sloan late on a backdoor cut sealed the dramatic come-from-behind win for the Rams, giving Roaring Fork a hard-fought 62-57 win in the season opener.

"It think it was huge," said Williams. "I think the boys realizing that if we're more aggressive with the ball and defensively, we can be real successful this season. If we're too passive with the ball and on defense, we're in real trouble. I thought that was the case in the first half, and we were too careless with the ball. Once we stopped throwing the ball away and tightened up defensively we were able to get going."

In the win, Miranda led the Rams with 19 points, 10 of which came in the Rams' 27-point fourth quarter. Clemente added 13 points, while Salinas and Sloan added 8 and 7 points,respectively. Roaring Fork takes on Lutheran, the state runner-up in 3A, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to wrap up the Brenda Patch Tournament.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Roaring Fork 48, Steamboat Springs 25

A tenacious defensive effort and a 12-point effort off the bench by senior Isabella Hernandez paced the Roaring Fork Rams' girls basketball team to an impressive 48-25 win over the visiting Steamboat Springs Sailors Friday evening in the Brenda Patch Tournament.

The Rams raced out to a 10-2 lead after one quarter of play, thanks to 4 points each in the opening quarter by senior guard Logan Erickson and junior guard Emily Broadhurst. Roaring Fork then held off the Sailors 10-7 in the second quarter to take a 20-9 lead into the half thanks to 8 first-half points from Broadhurst and some suffocating defense by a slew of guards on the perimeter for Roaring Fork.

"That's going to be the biggest thing with this team; our defense is going to create our offense," said Jade Bath, Roaring Fork's head coach. "We really count on turning those steals into fast breaks and layups. We weren't getting some shots to fall, but we were getting open looks, so maybe those looks fall later in the season."

The 11-point lead at home set up an impressive second half for the Rams as the bench for Bath caught fire, sparking the Rams to the 23-point win to open the season.

"I told the girls at halftime to take a breath, gather yourselves and get a good shot off," said Bath.

The girls listened as Roaring Fork as the Rams exploded for 14 points in the third quarter, led by 6 points from senior Kendall Bernot and 4 points from Hernandez in the paint, helping the Rams open up a 34-10 lead after three quarters of play.

Hernandez came off the bench and provided the Rams with a consistent scoring option in the paint, adding 8 points in the fourth quarter to finish as the leading scorer for the Rams.

"I was nervous at first, but after my shots starting falling I was very confident," said Hernandez. "From there I trusted my teammates and wasn't worried about defenders around me. I just really trusted my team and our offense and I got some shots to fall. It feels really good to open the season like this as a group; it's a lot to be proud of. We realized last season we had a lot of potential, so after today the bar is set high. We're very confident and trust each other."

Along with Hernandez's heroics off the bench, Maya Lindgren added 6 points for the Rams as a reserve, while Lux Andrade hit two fourth-quarter free throws, helping the Rams pull away for the win. Broadhurst and Bernot added 8 points each, while Erickson finished with 6 points.

"This team is going to need a strong showing from the bench each night, whoever it is," said Bath. "Having Isa be the leading scorer was huge for us. It might not be her night tomorrow, but if we can get someone to come off the bench and produce each night it's going to be a good season for us. "

The Roaring Fork girls take on the Coal Ridge Titans Saturday night at 6 p.m. to close out the girls side of the Brenda Patch Tournament.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Coal Ridge 69, Lutheran 64

In a clash of two 3A preseason powerhouses, the No. 6 Coal Ridge Titans came out on top in a thrilling back-and-forth battle against the No. 3 Lutheran Lions Friday afternoon at the Brenda Patch Tournament in Carbondale at Roaring Fork High School.

In a matchup of two former Rifle Bears classmates and teammates, Paul Harvey's Coal Ridge charges got the best of Bill Brandsma's Lutheran Lions, taking their first lead of the game with 3:51 left in the third quarter before fulling taking control of the game with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, pulling away for the 69-64 win.

"It's a big win for us," said Harvey. "We said in the locker room before the game that we've played top teams well, but we haven't been able to get over the hump. This gives us a lot of confidence. Lutheran is so well-coached, and they were the state runner-up for a reason last season. This win tells us we can play with anyone. We had a hunch we could, but this gives our kids the confidence if we play our style of basketball."

Things started off a bit slow for the Titans as Coal Ridge missed a number of shots from beyond the arc as senior center Kevin DiMarco picked up two early fouls, allowing Lutheran to take advantage in the paint, pulling out to an early 8-2 lead.

The Titans rallied quickly though as senior Payton White hit a pair of free throws and drained a 3-pointer, making it a 13-7 game. Coal Ridge senior Kevyn Flores also got a tough tip-in to fall after White's 3-pointer to pull the Titans to within 4 points at 13-9. Following Flores' tip-in, Lutheran's Aidan Potter and Coal Ridge's Jesus Camunez traded 3-pointers before Coal Ridge's Jan Hernandez hit a runner in the lane, making it a 16-14 game in favor of the Lions.

A late putback in the lane by Lutheran's Kyle Budnack gave the Lions a 22-16 lead after one quarter of play.

In the second quarter, Coal Ridge went on a quick 6-0 run as Flores and White hit back-to-back 3-pointers, making it a 24-22 game, A 3-pointer by Hernandez minutes later made it 30-27 Lions in a shootout. Lutheran later stretched its lead to 37-29 before a 3-pointer by Camunez from the wing pulled the Titans back to within 5 points, but a layup late by Lutheran's Matt Thompson sent the Lions into the half with a 39-32 lead over the Titans.

Things quickly changed in the third quarter as Coal Ridge opened the half with a driving layup by DiMarco before the Titans went on a 6-0 run to make it a 41-40 game in favor of Lutheran as White hit a layup, Camunez got a twisting putback shot to fall through contact, and DiMarco followed up a missed free throw with a putback, igniting the Titans' bench.

Coal Ridge then took its first lead of the game minutes later at the 3:51 mark of the third quarter as White hit a putback on the fastbreak, and DiMarco hit two free throws after a foul on Thompson, pushing Coal Ridge in front 44-43.

"The defense keyed the offense for us tonight," said Harvey. "Once we started getting some stops and communicating a little bit better, we were able to capitalize at the other end."

Lutheran responded with a quick 5-0 run as Potter hit a three and a layup, but Coal Ridge didn't back down. A 3-pointer by Hernandez made it 48-47 Lions. The senior saved his best for last in the third quarter though as he hit a pullup three at the buzzer, drawing the foul and then sinking the ensuing free throw to cap off the 4-point play, making it a 54-53 game in favor of Lutheran heading into the final quarter of play.

The fourth quarter was all Titans as sophomore Hank DiMarco hit a big layup in traffic to tie the game at 56-56, the Titans went on an 8-0 run thanks to a layup and jumper from DiMarco, and layups from Camunez and White made it a 64-59 game in favor of Coal Ridge.

Coal Ridge later beat Lutheran's press as junior Austin Gerber hit a layup before then splitting a pair of free throws, helping the Titans cap off the 69-64 win over the Lions.

In the win, Hernandez led the Titans with 17 points, while White added 16. DiMarco and Camunez each added 11 points, while Flores added 9 points. For Lutheran, Potter led the Lions with 16 points, while Jeet Pathak and Thompson added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Coal Ridge 46, Rifle 23

In the first game of the Brenda Patch Tournament Friday at Roaring Fork High School, the Coal Ridge Titans' girls basketball team opened up the season with a big 46-23 win over the Rifle Bears, thanks to a game-high 19 points from sophomore center Taylor Wiescamp.

Coal Ridge held the Bears to single digits in each quarter, taking a 30-14 lead at the half before closing things out late.

The Titans opened with a 19-point first quarter as senior Adriana Varges and Wiescamp scored 7 and 10 points each in the opening quarter, helping the Titans pull away early.

Varges finished with 12 points, hitting one 3-pointer. Wiescamp scored seven baskets and went 4-for-6 from the free throw line for Coal Ridge.

Rifle saw senior Masi Smith score 7 points, hitting a 3-pointer in the opening quarter. Delaney Phillips added 6 points in the loss.

jcarney@postindependent.com