Roaring Fork boys fall in first round
FORT COLLINS ” With seven minutes to go in its first round Class 3A State Tournament game, the Roaring Fork boys basketball team had the Eaton Reds right where it wanted them.
The Rams had a 23-22 lead in a low-scoring game where they controlled the tempo and were on a roll. Then it all fell apart for Roaring Fork and its upset attempt.
The Rams turned the ball over on three key possessions, while the Reds went on a 9-0 run on their way to a 37-25 win that sent them into the Final Four and put the Rams in the consolation bracket.
“We had a chance and it was late in the game, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes,” said Roaring Fork head coach Roger Walters. “I am really proud of the boys. Eaton is a very, very talented team.”
Matthias Weissl and Torrey Udall were the only Rams to score in the contest, as the Rams struggled to get shots to fall. Weissl finished with 15 points and three 3-pointers, while Udall scored 10.
After finding themselves down 17-12 at halftime, the Rams rallied back in the third quarter. Udall hit a layup, drew a foul and got the free throw after, and then Weissl hit a 3 to cut Eaton’s lead to 19-18 four minutes into the frame.
Weissl, a Roaring Fork senior exchange student from Austria, then got a steal and charged down the court and cashed in on a reverse layup to give the Rams their first lead, at 20-19, since the game’s opening minutes.
Eaton, the defending state champions, closed out the third with a 3-pointer to take a 22-20 lead going into the fourth. Weissl started off the final frame with a layup and Udall hit 1 of 2 free throws to put Roaring Fork up 23-22 with 6:30 remaining.
Unfortunately for the Rams, that was the last lead they saw. Roaring Fork had trouble taking care of the ball and costly turnovers helped fuel a 9-0 Eaton run, with a Seth Lobato steal and slam dunk in the middle of it. Roaring Fork didn’t score for over four minutes as the Reds pulled away.
Ram Alex Hernandez got a steal and fed Weissl for a layup to stop the skid with two minutes left and Roaring Fork down 31-25. Two more Ram turnovers in the final minutes sealed Eaton’s victory.
“It was a good game. The kids did everything we asked them to do,” Walters said.
“Defensively, that was our best effort of the year. We played great in the post, Walker (Abrahamovich), Ryan (Weimer) and Torrey all did a great job and the perimeter kids did as well.”
Lebato led the Reds with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Kade Merritt scored 11 and Cody Ball had 10.
It’s the second year in a row the Rams, who finished as consolation champions last year, have failed to advance in the first round, after falling to Kent Denver last year.
Roaring Fork (19-6) will now get a shot at redemption from last year as it will take on Kent Denver, which lost to Colorado Springs Christian, 48-37, today at 10:15 a.m. in the consolation semifinals. If the Rams win, they will advance to the consolation finals at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. If they lose, the season will be over.
Eaton (23-2) will play C.S. Christian in the Final Four at 8:30 p.m.
The Rams hung around Moby Arena to watch the rest of the games on Thursday to prepare for Friday’s contest.
“We are excited to go out there and play again,” Walters said.
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It was a close game, but after some thrilling back-and-forth plays the Rifle Bears were able to pull off the 28-20 victory over The Academy on May 1.