Roaring Fork boys top Rifle in final game of Brenda Patch tourney
One night after struggling against Steamboat Springs’ long, athletic zone defense, the Roaring Fork Rams’ boys basketball team came out confidence and decisive offensively Saturday night in the finale of the Brenda Patch Tournament, rolling to a 50-32 win over the Rifle Bears in Carbondale.
“Our guards played with confidence and were able to get into the lane, where they didn’t last night,” Roaring Fork veteran head coach Larry Williams said. “They were hitting some outside shots and really, just played with a lot more confidence.”
In the tournament finale Saturday evening, Roaring Fork raced out to a 10-5 lead after one quarter of play thanks to some tough play in the paint from junior forwards Joe Salinas and Aidan Sloan, as well as a big three-pointer from junior guard Oscar Miranda. Following the solid first eight minutes of play, Roaring Fork found a groove offensively as senior forward Justin Thompson got going in the second quarter, hitting two tough layups in traffic and splitting a pair of free throws, while Salinas and Sloan cashed in a pair of free throws, giving the Rams a 23-9 lead heading into the half over the young Bears, who struggled to get good looks on the night against a tough Roaring Fork zone.
“We preach a lot about working together as a group,” Rifle first-year head coach Kyle Daniell said. “We’re still figuring that out, when it comes to off-ball activity and making basketball plays off the ball and using your teammates. We don’t see the floor and see each other and move together right now. I really hope that comes because it needs to come. We’re really struggling to put points on the board right now, and that’s frustrating with having the size advantage at times.”
Coming out out of the break, Thompson heated up in the third quarter, dropping seven points in the eight minutes of play, while Roaring Fork senior forward Irving Anchondo and Miranda hit three-pointers in the quarter to pace the Rams’ attack. Rifle’s offense did come alive in the third quarter through, equalling their first-half total in points with nine as senior guard Jacob Seeman hit a three-pointer to spark the Bears, while fellow seniors Evan Gray and Blake Swasey got going in the paint, hitting two tough shots, but the Bears trailed by 20 points heading into the final quarter of play.
In the fourth quarter, Rifle started out red-hot, going on a quick 5-0 run as junior forward Joel Lopez upped the pressure defensively, picking up two steals before cashing in at the other end, while guard J.D. Martinez split a pair of free throws.
But Anchondo drilled a three-pointer to quickly right the ship for the Rams, while Thompson continued his hot second half, scoring six fourth-quarter points, helping the Rams hang on for the big 18-point win on their home floor to close out the 31st edition of the Brenda Patch Tournament.
In the win, Thompson finished with a game-high 18 points, including 13 points in the second half, while Salinas added nine points for the Rams. Anchondo and Miranda chipped in with six points each for Roaring Fork.
“Justin was phenomenal tonight,” Williams said. “He stepped up his defense from last night, and he was the man on offense tonight; they couldn’t stop him.”
Lopez was the bright spot for the Bears on a tough night, finishing with a team-high 11 points, while Seeman finished with six points in the loss.
“Joel plays with all his heart,” Daniell said. “He competes every night and he competes every night in practice, challenging himself to get better. You can always count on Joel to play hard and do his job every night and play for his teammates…he doesn’t know another other way to play than to leave it all out there. He’s definitely a bright spot.”
The Rams will head to the Weld Central Tournament Dec. 7-9, while the Bears will travel to the Green Mountain Tournament Dec. 7-9 in Denver.
RIFLE 49, ROARING FORK 17
Riding high after Friday night’s season-opening win over Steamboat Springs, the Roaring Fork Rams’ girls basketball team had a rough showing Saturday night on Day 2 of the Brenda Patch Tournament, falling behind the Rifle Bears 14-2 after one quarter of play while never really getting going offensively in a 49-17 loss.
Rifle raced out to a 14-2 lead after one quarter of play thanks to four three-pointers as senior guard Katy Manupella drilled two corner threes, while senior point guard Elly Walters added two of her own as the Rams’ defense was late to rotate and get a hand up each time, leaving good Rifle shooters wide open beyond the arc.
After the first quarter of play, Roaring Fork switched to a man defense so that shooters wouldn’t pop open in the corner, so the Rams went to work in the paint as junior forward Masi Smith hit a tough layup and sank two free throws, while Walters got into the lane a handful of times for twisting layups, leading the Bears to a huge 33-7 lead at the half.
Along with exceptional offensive balance on the day, Rifle was just as tough on the defensive end, holding the Rams to single digits in every quarter of play.
Following a tough runner in the lane by Roaring Fork junior guard Logan Erickson to start the third quarter, Rifle went on a 10-0 run before Roaring Fork junior forward Kendall Bernott drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to put the Rams in double digits on the night.
In the win, Walters scored a game-high 18 points, while Katy Manupella added 10 points for the Bears.
For Roaring Fork, Erickson led the way with five points, while sophomore Emily Broadhurst added four points.