Rams out to shut down Ms. Basketball
Last season the Rams headed to the state basketball championship with Class 3A’s top girls player in Tarn Udall.It wasn’t enough. The Roaring Fork girls fell to eventual state champion Platte Valley in the state championship opener.Tonight the Rams have the opportunity to deal the same blow to Estes Park and this year’s Class 3A Rocky Mountain News/CBS 4 Ms. Basketball, Dawn Shockley.”I don’t think it really is a big factor,” said Roaring Fork senior guard Carly Velasquez of Shockley. “Obviously we didn’t get past the first round last year. She’s just another player.”Shockley may be a little more than just another player. She ranks first in 3A in scoring (23.4 points per game) and steals (5.8 per game), second in assists (5.9 per game) and was also in the top 10 for rebounds.Still, Velasquez and the Rams believe their defense is good enough that they won’t need to change their entire system for one player.”Over the years, I’ve never thought that one player could really beat you,” Roaring Fork coach Kirk Cheney said, “unless you have an Abby Waner (Class 5A’s 2005 Ms. Basketball) or Chauncey Billups (former Colorado prep star currently with the Detroit Pistons). We’ll put our best defender on her and go from there.”ms. basketball: see page 12ms. basketball: from page 11Roaring Fork has plenty of options when it comes to defense. The Rams (21-2) have allowed more than 50 points only twice this season to 3A teams, and have a number of solid man-on-man defenders to match up with Shockley.”Anybody on the team is willing to do it,” Velasquez said. And Velasquez is confident the team won’t waste this second opportunity at the state championships, particularly after last season’s early exit.”Last year there was more nerves than excitement,” she said. “This year it’s more excitement than nerves. We’ve been there and know what it’s going to take to get (to the title game) this time.”Along with Shockley, the Bobcats’ up-tempo offense also has a double-digit scorer in Cassie Vendegna (11 ppg).Estes Park tends to press often, but the Rams, with an exceptionally deep back court, have been adept at breaking presses all season.”We will see if we are as good at running the press offense as it would appear we have been,” Cheney said. “We haven’t had many teams so far this year who have wanted to press us too long.”Senior Megan Zeigel paces the Rams offense with 11 points per game, and Whitney Campbell checks in at just under 10 per game. Guards Campbell, Velasquez and Ashley Jensen are all solid ball-handlers when it comes to working through the press.Balance and defense have been the keys to the Rams’ success this season. Desire and experience can also be added to the mix now that the state tourney has arrived.”I just don’t want to come out with any regrets,” Velasquez said. “If we lose to a team that’s better than us, that’s fine. But we’re not going to lose to a team that doesn’t match up with us.”Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. The winners face the winner of the Faith Christian-Colorado Springs Christian contest Friday at 8:30. The losers play in the consolation round at 1:15 p.m. Friday.Class 3A State Girls Basketball PlayoffsQuarterfinal, Thursday at CSU’s Moby Arena, Fort CollinsRoaring Fork (21-2) vs. Estes Park (24-1), 8:30 p.m.Radio: KMTS-FM (99.1)Team LeadersRoaring Fork: Megan Zeigel, 11 ppg, 2.3 spg; Whitney Campbell, 9.8 ppg; Laura Wright, 8.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg; Carly Velasquez, 7.2 ppg; 2.3 apg.Estes Park: Dawn Shockley, 23.4 ppg, 9 rpg, 5.9 apg, 5.8 spg; Cassie Vendegna, 11 ppg, 5 rpg; Alyssa Santoriello, 8 rpg.
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The brackets are set for the 12-team 4A girls lacrosse state championships, and the Roaring Fork Rams are dancing as the No. 9 seed.