Rams pull away from Skiers for victory
CARBONDALE — It’s hard to beat a team three times in the same season, but the Roaring Fork High boys basketball team did just that on Tuesday night.
The Rams staged a furious second-half rally to defeat the Aspen Skiers, 58-37, in a first round, Class 3A Western Slope League playoff game that clinched a spot in the 3A state tournament for Roaring Fork.
Trailing 23-19 at halftime, Roaring Fork, behind the hot hand of senior guard Ben Carpenter, used a 10-0 run to open the third quarter and grab a lead it would never relinquish.
Carpenter started the Rams’ scoring barrage with consecutive 3-pointers to give his team some much-needed momentum. Chering Sherpa converted a steal into a layup, and Aldo Pinela scored inside to force a Skier timeout at the 5-minute, 44-second juncture of the third period.
Following the stoppage in action, Aspen did right the ship somewhat behind the play of guard Evan Patzolt, cutting the Ram lead to 32-30. But Carpenter’s four 3-pointers — all in the third quarter — staked his team to a 39-32 lead entering the final 8 minutes of the game.
Sherpa, who drove to the basket aggressively all night long, scored on back-to-back forays down the lane, and the Rams found themselves with an 11 point lead that would never be seriously challenged for the remainder of the evening.
With his team outscoring Aspen by a 39-14 count in the second half, Roaring Fork coach Larry Williams must have sprinkled some magic pixie dust on his team’s sneakers during his halftime talk.
“We just told the kids to take better care of the ball and execute the offense,” Williams said. “I told them the first two minutes of the second half would determine the outcome.”
Williams’ words were as prophetic as Carpenter’s long-range accuracy in the second half. Following the game, Carpenter was more interested in talking about his team, rather than himself.
“It was a team effort tonight. In the first half, we got away from that a little bit and we turned the ball over too much,” Carpenter said “I wouldn’t have made those 3’s if my teammates wouldn’t have passed it to me.”
Roaring Fork upped their record to 14-6 overall with the win and will move into a Friday district semifinal contest against Grand Valley at Grand Junction Central High School. The Cardinals beat the Basalt Longhorns, 79-49, in another league tournament game on Tuesday.
The balanced Rams scoring effort saw Carpenter notch 18 points and Pinela, Adrian Chavez, and Sherpa contribute 12, 11, and 10 points, respectively.
Aspen ended their year with a 9-11 record. The Skiers got 10 points each from Evan Patzolt and Evan Geishart.
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Senior quarterback/safety/punt returner Trey Caldwell used his legs to make up for some mistakes Rifle football made on Friday night and momentarily kept their hopes for a 2A state title alive.