Roaring Fork coach knows his game |

Roaring Fork coach knows his game

Post Independent/Kara K. PearsonRoaring Fork head boys basketball coach Roger Walters shares a laugh with player Parker Nieslanik as other players run through plays during Thursday's practice. The Rams play Ignacio High School tonight at 8 p.m.

CARBONDALE ” He defers praise for himself, preferring to pass the kudos for Roaring Fork’s success to the players and his assistants. But they agree that Roger Walters is a darn good basketball coach.

How good?

“He’s pretty amazing,” said third-year assistant coach Rick Sorensen. “(Roger) prepares hard for practices during the week and the kids respond and they work hard for him.”

“Coach brings a lot to the table. He knows the game and is obsessed with basketball,” said senior Adam Joiner. “He never gets frustrated at games and always knows what to do.”

Roaring Fork’s win-loss record the past three years proves Walters knows his hoops.

Since Walters took over as Rams boys head coach prior to the 2003-04 season, Roaring Fork has gone 67-7 and has won three straight regular-season Western Slope League titles ” going unbeaten in league all three years.

“That’s just Roger. He just can’t settle for less than the best,” Sorensen added.

Moreover, the Rams have won three straight district championships, including last weekend’s district tourney in Palisade. And have gone 7-0 in the process.

The Rams’ post-season domination under Walters is reflected in the uniforms they’ve worn throughout post-season play. Earning high seeds at each step of the 3A playoffs each year ” the Rams have yet to wear their road Blue uniforms for a playoff game.

“It’s awesome,” Joiner said of the wardrobe streak. “It’s something that we want to keep going because it’s a cool thing.”

And the streak continues throughout this weekend, due to the Rams earning the highest seed in the Ray Lutz subregional tournament, which starts today in Carbondale.

Prior to taking the coaching job at Roaring Fork, Walters had similar success at Class 4A Rifle High.

As Bears head coach, Walters piloted Rifle to four straight winning seasons in seven years, and was the only coach in the school’s history to earn a district boys championship. In 2001-02, Walters’ final year at RHS, the Bears won the 4A Western Slope League title with a 17-7 overall mark.

A victory over Ignacio, Roaring Fork’s semifinal opponent, and the winner between Holy Family and Weld Central, puts the Rams in position to becoming a three-time district champ and third consecutive berth to the Class 3A state playoffs.

The 10-12 Bobcats enter Friday’s semifinals with momentum. After a tough one-point loss to Bayfield, they continued their post-season run with a 45-39 win over Centauri at last weekend’s District 1 tournament.

Kasey Lucero sealed the Bobcats’ victory by hitting a pair of clutch free throws in the game’s final minute. He led Ignacio with 16 points. Post Scott Hill tossed in 11.

If Roaring Fork wins, the Rams face the other semifinal survivor between Holy Family and Weld Central.

Out of the Patriot League, the 16-7 Wildcats’ top play is Tommy Klausner. According to Rocky Preps statistics, the junior is among the state’s boys 3A scoring and rebound leaders ” averaging 17.2 points with just under 10 boards per game.

Holy Family (15-7), come in with a two-game winning streak after District 4 tournament victories over Colorado Academy and Machebeuf.

The Tigers are lead offensively by seniors Gabe Middleton (12.4 per-game) and Matt Bennett (11.6, 6.0 rebounds).

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