Rams top Estes Park, earn a trip to Fort Collins | PostIndependent.com

Rams top Estes Park, earn a trip to Fort Collins

Jeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

CARBONDALE – Talk about pressure.With students and parents booking hotel rooms in Fort Collins weeks ago and teachers already requesting substitutes to attend a potential Roaring Fork Great Eight appearance, it’d be impossible to fault the Rams for buckling under the sometimes-crushing weight of expectation.Trailing 19-17 to Estes Park early in the second quarter of Saturday’s Class 3A Bob Chavez Region finale, a packed house at Roaring Fork High School – rowdy and clad in yellow and blue – worried their team might just be struggling under the pressure. Nerves, uncharacteristic turnovers and just-plain sloppy play put the Rams in a bit of hole. It didn’t take long to dig out, though, as the team took a collective deep breath, laid a 19-3 half-closing run on the Bobcats and ran away with a 78-53 boys basketball win.

“That’s a lot of pressure,” Roaring Fork senior Kyle Raaflaub said. “Sometimes you wonder what if we don’t make it.” And, being one of the 3A classification’s top teams, the Rams’ opponents are always looking to make a statement with an upset.”Everyone treats it like their Super Bowl when they go up against us,” senior Kade Gianinetti said. “You have a big target on your back.”Roaring Fork brushed that all aside and took care of business on Saturday, following up its run late in the second quarter with a defense-fueled 42-point second half. With steals feeding the fast break and their trademark, patient offense picking off baskets the Rams find themselves in the state’s final eight for the fourth straight year.Roaring Fork coach Roger Walters praised his accomplished seniors, who combined for 60 points.”For four years they’ve been such a joy to be around,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to let them go.”

Of that group, Gianinetti led the way with 25 points, closely followed by Raaflaub with 24. Trevor Hunt chipped in nine and his twin brother, Tyler, had two points. Raaflaub also had 10 rebounds. Junior Torrey Udall, who fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, finished up with 15 points and nine boards.Udall paid homage to his elder teammates.”They deserve everything,” he said. “They set a great example of Roaring Fork basketball.”It took a while for Roaring Fork to adjust to a Denver officiating crew that called a tight game. Besides Udall fouling out, the Hunts ended the game with four fouls apiece and Raaflaub wound up with three.

“We didn’t know how they’d call the game,” Gianinetti said. “In the first half, we figured out how they called the game and got adjusted.”Sean Drieling led Estes Park with 15 points.Next up for the Rams is a Thursday state quarterfinal meeting with Kent Denver, which beat Manitou Springs 53-29 on Saturday, at Colorado State University. The semifinals are slated for Friday and the final for Saturday. Walters knows the competition in Fort Collins will be fierce.”Once you get to the final eight, everyone is incredible,” he said. “Everybody is as good as everybody else.” But he’s optimistic about the coming game.”This is the healthiest we’ve been all year. We were nicked up and sick for a while,” Walters said. “I’m happy with the way we’re playing on both ends of the floor.”

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