Roaring Fork girls grab district title |

Roaring Fork girls grab district title

Grand Junction Free Press/Greg ReedRoaring Fork's Laura White goes for a layup at Saturday's District 2 basketball tournament in Palisade.

PALISADE ” Entering the District 2 girls basketball tournament as the second-seed team, Roaring Fork set a goal along with something to prove to themselves.

“After losing the league championship, we came in here with the goal to win districts,” said Rams head coach Kirk Cheney. “And winning this championship was more important.”

It sure is, coach.

The 46-41 victory over Hotchkiss sets Roaring Fork up as a possible host for this week’s Class 3A regional tournament ” a scenario that wouldn’t have materialized if the Rams lost Saturday’s title game.

But playing the fourth-seeded Bulldogs was no walk in the park. The Rams (16-6) had to sweat out every second of the contest.

“You have to give it to Hotchkiss,” Cheney said. “They are a good team, and we’re lucky that we don’t have to play them again.”

At least, not soon.

Getting a big first quarter from leading scorer Ashley Burke propelled the Bulldogs to a 15-8 lead at the end of the period. Burke scored seven of her game-high 23 points in the quarter, which included a 3-pointer in a 8-0 Hotchkiss run.

“Ashley’s just a great player,” Cheney said. But the Rams did find a way to cut down her effectiveness as the game progressed.

“We didn’t really change our defense on her,” Cheney said. “We were just giving her too much space.”

Once the Rams figured out a plan on Burke, the rest of the Bulldogs failed to pick up the slack. No other Hotchkiss player scored more than eight points. As a team, the rest of Hotchkiss roster scored a combined 18 points.

A four-minute scoreless stretch, caused by the Rams’ defense, allowed Roaring Fork to make up the deficit.

Rebecca Roeber’s basket knotted the game at 17-all with a little over three minutes left in the first half. Jessica Smeins, who finished with 11 points, gave Roaring Fork the lead a possession later.

The Rams never trailed again. But it got nail-biting a couple of times down the stretch.

Whitney Campbell appeared to seal the win after a driving lay-up with a free throw on a Hotchkiss foul for an 11-point lead with 3:56 to go in the fourth quarter.

“That play was huge,” Chaney said. “It set the tone for us, and it showed we weren’t going to give up.”

The Bulldogs didn’t think so.

Burke responded by draining two, back-to-back treys in a rapid order to get within five points of the Rams. The Bulldogs’ Amber Barnes narrowed the margin down to 44-41 with two free throws before Sarah Armstrong hit the game’s final basket for the final score.

The next thing on Roaring Fork’s mind is how impressive their performance was to the playoff basketball committee. Which they’ll find out some time this afternoon when the Colorado High School Activities Association releases the regional tournament pairings.

Longhorns recover for third place

After suffering an overtime loss to Hotchkiss the night before, No. 1-seeded Basalt recovered in Saturday’s third-place game with Cedaredge.

Katy Mulcahy scored 18 points and Dayne Toney added 13 in the Longhorns 52-42 win over the third-seeded Bruins. Basalt took a commanding 29-17 lead at halftime and led throughout the second half, withstanding two determined Cedaredge charges that cut the Longhorns’ lead down to three points twice in the fourth quarter.

A pair of free throws by the Bruins Katie Wright slashed Basalt’s lead to 43-40 with 2 minutes, 10 seconds left. The Longhorns distanced themselves by outscoring Cedaredge, 9-2, in the game’s final minutes.

Wright, who finished with 13 points, was the lone Bruins’ player to score in double figures.

Both teams have earned spots for this week’s 3A regional playoffs. The brackets for the upcoming regional tournaments are scheduled to be released by the CHSAA this afternoon.

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