Rams gearing up for regional tournament
CARBONDALE More than 26 points – that’s the average margin of victory for the Roaring Fork boys basketball team this season in 21 games won.It’s a mark that’s earned the Rams their fourth consecutive Class 3A Western Slope title and District Two championship.Heading into this weekend’s regional tournament, it’s a gap head coach Roger Walters knows is bound to shrink.
“Everyone is going to be good from now on. We have got to get in the mindset that there aren’t going to be any more blowouts,” said the four-year coach. “We are going to have close games.”Roaring Fork (21-1) got its first taste of close games in the district championship last Saturday against Aspen. Roaring Fork came away with the 45-40 win, but also learned some lessons. “We are going to have to play great defense, make all of our close shots and shoot 70 percent from the (free-throw) line,” Walters said. “If we have got those three things, we’ve got a good chance at going to the dance.”If the Rams want to go to the dance (the 3A Elite Eight at Colorado State University in Fort Collins March 8-10), they’ll have to win two regional games first.
After winning the district title, Roaring Fork was granted a top regional seed and will host the Bob Chavez Regional tournament Friday and Saturday.”It’s always good to play at home,” said Walters, whose team hasn’t lost a game at home this season. “The kids are comfortable sleeping in their own beds, shooting at their own baskets and playing in a familiar place.”At 7 p.m. on Friday, the Rams will play No. 8 Bennett, a 10-13 team. Bennett, coming from a town 20 miles east of Denver, is led by 6-foot-2 junior Porter Wilson, who is averaging more than 18 points per game.Ram post Torrey Udall and point guard Kade Gianinetti are leading Roaring Fork with 14 and 13 points per game, but Roaring Fork prides itself more on all-around team play than individual talent. Everyone chips in as Kyle Raaflaub hits 3-pointers and Tyler and Trevor Hunt lend a fair share of assists, steals and rebounds for the team.
And all the Rams contribute to the one thing Walters values more than anything else: defense.It’s an element Roaring Fork will be practicing a lot this week.”We are so team oriented, if we can just play like we play at practice, we should be good,” Walters said.If the Rams can pass Bennett, they will play in the regional championship game at 1 p.m. against the winner of Friday’s Estes Park-Buena Vista contest.
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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.