Rams hold off stubborn Eagle Valley
GSPI Sports Editor
CARBONDALE ” It turned into the Dan and Nic show Friday night at Roaring Fork High School.
In a battle of league unbeatens, Rams Dan Markoya and Nic Lough each posted double-doubles as Roaring Fork overcame foul trouble and held off its biggest challenge from a 3A team so far this season to defeat Eagle Valley, 62-46.
Markoya was on fire early. He opened the game with back-to-back treys ” he finished with four three pointers and 16 points in the first quarter ” and a nice spin move by Lough in the paint gave Roaring Fork a quick 8-0 advantage.
“Our teammates are smart,” said Markoya, who had a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds in the game. “If you’re hot they give you the ball. Before the game I don’t think I missed a shot in warmups.”
It’s not uncommon for the undefeated Rams to jump out to an early lead. What is rare this season is for the opponent to battle back and not fold under the relentless pressure of Roaring Fork.
Eagle Valley (6-1 Western Slope, 7-3 overall) didn’t fold.
The Devils never led, but also didn’t allow Roaring Fork to get out of sight, closing the gap to five points in the third quarter before the Rams put the game away.
Eagle Valley cut the lead to 36-31 with 2:41 left in the third quarter. And, with two Rams starters ” point guard Aaron Markham and backcourt mate Christian Tena ” on the bench with four fouls, the potential for an upset looked ripe.
But the bench had no problem picking up the slack.
The defense didn’t miss a beat, and Lough, Markoya and Tyler Gillespie each had field goals on a 6-0 run to end the quarter and give the Rams a 42-31 cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
Markham and Tena returned to the lineup with a 48-38 lead and 5:16 left in the game. Markham, however, lasted just 14 seconds before picking up his fifth foul, leaving Tena with a majority of the offensive and defensive duties at the point.
“(Tena) is the ultimate blue-collar kid,” Roaring Fork coach Roger Walters said. “His defensive intensity picks us all up.
“And we got huge contributions from Tommy (Joiner) and Tyler off the bench,” Walters added.
The Devils, who also lost starting post Dillon Barkman to fouls early in the fourth, were unable to take advantage of the jumbled Rams lineup. Eagle Valley didn’t get closer than eight points down the stretch and the Rams closed the game with a 10-2 run.
“It’s good to have this kind of competition and it’s good to be in those kinds of situations,” said Lough of the team’s foul troubles. “And we have an awesome bench.”
While Roaring Fork led throughout, the Rams couldn’t shake Eagle Valley until the final run.
The Devils finished the first quarter trailing 21-13. Lough carried Roaring Fork in the second stanza with eight of the Rams’ nine points. The junior center played the entire 32 minutes and finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds
“They keyed on Dan and that freed me up to score some points,” Lough said.
But the Devils didn’t lose much ground in the second as Eagle Valley’s Cody Gerard tallied five of his team-high 19 points in the quarter as the Devils trailed 30-21 at the halftime intermission.
Three-pointers by Gerard and Jerad Schlegal keyed the push in the third quarter that got Eagle Valley within five at 34-29.
– On Saturday night, the Rams got back to their blowout ways with a 74-44 drubbing of Cedaredge.
Markoya led all scorers with 21 points and Lough chipped in 20. Jake Boyle was deadly from outside with five three-pointers en route to a 17-point performance.
With the weekend’s two wins, Roaring Fork improves to 6-0 in league (11-0 overall). Cedaredge drops to 3-3 (5-6).
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After losing the 3A Western Slope League race in a tough, five-set loss to Basalt on April 15, the Coal Ridge High volleyball team finds its playoff fate partly out of its own hands.