Rams run roughshod through regionals
Post Independent Staff
CARBONDALE ” A shift in gears was all Roaring Fork needed to get to the big dance.
A slower-paced game produced a multitude of points and a 63-47 win over Denver Christian on Saturday to advance the Rams to next week’s Class 3A boys state quarterfinals in Fort Collins.
As usual, the undefeated Rams (23-0) made the win look easy.
Denver Christian was ready for the Rams’ fast-break offense during Saturday’s regional title game, but the visiting Crusaders weren’t prepared for Roaring Fork’s half-court offense.
“(Denver Christian) started out in a man-to-man defense and we didn’t run our man offense as well as we should have,” Roaring Fork’s Dan Markoya said. “We pushed too fast and took too many quick shots. Then we started running our man offense well, and we got into our groove.”
With the Rams back in the groove, the half-court offense put Denver Christian into a rut.
After regaining the lead with the final two field goals of the first quarter, Roaring Fork fashioned a 15-point advantage by halftime.
Sparked by Markoya’s conventional three-pointer, the Rams began the second period with a 9-0 run to take a 27-14 lead before Denver Christian’s Luke DeNooy broke the dry spell by sinking two free throws.
Roaring Fork retaliated by scoring the last six points of the first half for a 38-23 lead.
“Sometimes the game gets too quick for us,” explained Roaring Fork coach Roger Walters. “But when we play together and pass the ball around five, six, seven times we’re really tough.”
Which Denver Christian found out.
The slowed offense allowed Markoya to score 13 of his game-high 22 points in the first half.
The senior forward also lit the fire to Roaring Fork’s first large offensive run to distance themselves from the Crusaders.
Denver Christian’s 14-4 second-half opening run did cause a few frets when Roaring Fork’s lead to shrank to 42-37 with a little more than three minutes left in the third.
But Jake Boyle righted the ship by intercepting a Denver Christian pass in the backcourt and converting on the opposite end.
Aaron Markham followed with a bucket. Then, Markoya concluded the period with a spirit-busting trey at the end of the quarter to go back up by 10.
Baskets by Nic Lough and Boyle raised Roaring Fork’s lead to 53-39. Boyle’s field goal, with 6:40 left, started the countdown to the game-ending celebration.
The Class 3A State Tournament Great 8 round starts Thursday at Colorado State University’s Moby Arena in Fort Collins.
CARBONDALE ” The Rams breezed through Saturday’s regional semifinal game by eliminating the Tri-Peaks League’s Salida Spartans from the postseason with a 68-48 defeat.
Roaring Fork jumped on the Spartans early, earning a 43-19 cushion to close out the first half.
Markoya finished with 27 points to lead all scorers. Teammate Nic Lough added 15. Josh Kunkle, who ended with 12 points, was the lone Salida player to hit for double figures.
– In the other regional semifinal game, Denver Christian outlasted Eagle Valley, 58-50. Travis Bowles led the Crusaders with 19 points. Luke De Nooy scored 18. Cody Gerard and Dillon Barkman scored 19 and 12 points, respectively for the Western Slope League Devils.
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