Roaring Fork boys bump Hotchkiss to make state
PALISADE – This was a time where daring to do something different paid off.
Down by seven points at halftime to Hotchkiss, Roaring Fork coach Mike Fahrenkrug decided to make a change.
The coach switched his team to a 1-3-1 zone defense in the third quarter after Hotchkiss shredded the Rams’ usual man-on-man alignment, and the Rams worked the new wrinkle in their arsenal to perfection.
And Hotchkiss, with a 12-point lead at one time, couldn’t figure out what to do.
Roaring Fork held the Bulldogs to 11 points in the second half, and took the lead on Juan Quintero’s field goal with 4:56 left, leading to a 60-55 win in Thursday’s first round of the 3A Boys District Tournament at Palisade High School.
The victory ensured the Roaring Fork boys a berth next week in the 32-team field for the expanded 3A State Tournament. The Rams will be playing for a possible District championship and seeding at state in their games Friday and Saturday.
“I never considered using the 1-3-1 before, but we worked on it in practice just in case,” Fahrenkrug said. “We didn’t play bad in the first half, but Hotchkiss is a very athletic team and we were frustrated with our box-and-one defense,” the coach said.
In the first half, the Bulldogs seemed to penetrate inside as they wished.
Forward Andy Camacho scored 11 points in the first period for a 22-13 Bulldog lead until Fahrenkrug put freshman Aaron Markham in the game.
He promptly drained a pair of 3-pointers on the Rams’ first two possessions of the second quarter to pull Roaring Fork back within three points.
The Bulldogs responded with a couple of treys, and ran their lead to 42-30 before Markham hit his third 3-pointer in the final minute of the quarter.
“Aaron knew his job was to shoot from the corner,” Fahrenkrug said of the shift. (Hotchkiss) was leaving us alone in that corner. Aaron’s a basketball kid and he can hit them.”
The spurt of offense from the freshman, along with the 1-3-1 zone, sparked the Rams.
The Rams managed to cut the Bulldogs’ 44-35 lead down to three when Kaid Harris scored with 2:07 remaining.
Both teams missed outside shots on their next attempts before Hotchkiss’ Andy Hatch slipped through for a bucket at the buzzer.
Then Juan Quintero stole the show for Roaring Fork.
After going just 2-for-8 in field-goal attempts in the first half, the Ram senior found his touch in the fourth quarter.
He scored three of the Rams’ baskets in a 10-4 run that gave Roaring Fork the lead for good.
Quintero cut the Bulldogs’ 53-47 lead in half after completing a three-point play with a free throw after a Hotchkiss foul on a field goal.
He stole the ball from Hatch at midcourt for an uncontested layup a few seconds later and capped his streak by bombing home the key basket of the run, a 3-pointer, to give the Rams the lead.
“Sometimes Juan presses too hard,” Fahrenkrug said. “During a timeout in the third period, he said, `I gotta relax’ “.
He did, and scored 10 of his team-high 17 points in the quarter. Markham and Levi Applegate added nine points each. Harris led the Rams with seven rebounds and he scored six points.
The victory advanced the Rams (10-9) to the next round and a game against the No. 1 seed, Cedaredge, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Palisade High School.
Cedaredge topped Meeker 69-52 in a late first-round game Thursday.
Hotchkiss will play in the elimination bracket, in search of one of the six state berths from the District Tournament.
Also Thursday night, Aspen defeated Rangely’s boys 57-45 and Eagle Valley nipped Gunnison’s boys 62-60 in overtime.
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