RF boys win regionals | PostIndependent.com

RF boys win regionals

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

CARBONDALE ” As each player cut down a piece of the net, it became more and more clear. Then when Roger Walters’ daughter cut the final strand, it sank in: The Roaring Fork boys basketball team is going back to the Class 3A state tournament.

By defeating No. 5 Weld Central 38-32 on Saturday, No. 1 Roaring Fork captured the Ray Lutz Regional Championship, and now, for the third straight year, the Rams are one of the eight teams who will battle for the state title.

“It’s real special because it’s been kind of an obsession with me and the kids for a whole year, and it is such a neat feeling to go to Fort Collins,” said Walters, who is in his third year at Roaring Fork. “And we get to go again.”

For much of the slow-paced game, the usually fast-paced Rams’ advancement didn’t look so certain. Tommy Klausner and Harley Reed, the Rebels’ big men, combined for 19 points and 12 rebounds, preventing Roaring Fork from pulling away.

“We were trying to push the ball and get early looks, but it didn’t happen,” said Walters, who spent moments of the game with his head in his hands and shaking his head on the sideline. “They got back on defense pretty well, and their size gave us some trouble.”

Roaring Fork was ahead 27-21 going into the final quarter, but Weld Central kept fighting back. Rebel Danny Diaz hit his third 3 of the game to tie the game at 29 with five minutes to go in the contest.

Christian Tena regained the Ram’s lead by hitting two free throws, and as Roaring Fork began to run a stall offense, the Rebels began to foul. The Rams cashed in on their free-throw opportunities, draining 8-of-12 to seal the deal.

“We knew we just had to run our stuff, do what we do and play like we do in practice,” Trevor Hunt said. “We could have ran our stuff better, but it was a good-paced game.”

As usual, the Rams’ defense was solid as they held Weld Central to four points in the third quarter and recorded eight steals in the game.

“Defensively, I am thrilled,” Walters said. “That has carried us all year long. (The Rams) are all-day tough. They are unbelievable kids with big hearts.”

Tena made 6-of-9 from the free-throw line and totaled 14 points, while Parker Nieslanik finished the day with eight points, including two 3-pointers, Trevor Hunt added another six and Derek Parker chipped in five for the Rams.

Diaz scored nine points and Ruben Gallegos recorded six steals to go along with five rebounds and two points for Weld Central.

With the two regional wins, the Rams are now 20-2 and await the Colorado High School Activities Association announcement of the state tournament seeding on Sunday. The tournament begins Thursday at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

“Both games really didn’t go the way we wanted them to, but it just shows that we can play different styles and still be successful,” Walters said.

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