Roaring Fork teams advance
RIFLE – Sometimes one quarter is enough.
The Roaring Fork girls, with a magical third quarter, won their opening game in the 3A District Tournament by scrambling past Aspen 40-34 Thursday afternoon.
The third-quarter heroics generated the victory, but left Roaring Fork coach Jacky Gaddis shaking her head.
“I learned something here today,” Gaddis said, admitting she tried to give her Rams a different look going into the District Tournament.
“We need to stick to what we know and just play,” Gaddis said after the Rams blistered the Skiers 22-4 in the fateful third quarter.
The winning run for Roaring Fork actually began with 3:33 to play in the first half when they trailed by 13 points, the Rams’ largest deficit of the game.
From that point to midway through the third quarter, Roaring Fork pressed and ran to a 15-0 run against the Skiers.
Aspen was held scoreless by the fired-up Ram defense for seven minutes and 26 seconds.
Emily Markham’s layup started the Roaring Fork run.
Caroline Cretti added consecutive steals, a free throw and a baseline jumper for the Rams.
Jessi Rochel contributed a basket and a foul shot.
Brie Bath hit a fastbreak layup for the runnin’ Rams.
And when Markham hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key off a pass from Bath, the Rams took their first lead of the game 22-20.
Lizzie Suiter, Aspen’s 6-foot-2 junior center, finally stopped the Roaring Fork run with a basket.
The Rams promptly regained the lead and expanded it to 34-24 at the end of the third quarter. Roaring Fork sophomore center Tarn Udall led that surge with three rebounds, a free throw and a basket at the third-quarter buzzer.
But Aspen answered with a strong run in the fourth quarter. A putback by Zara Podolak and a basket by Cassie Margaretten cut the Roaring Fork lead.
Lacee Patterson hit a 10-foot jumper to pull Aspen to within 35-34 with 2:22 to play in the game.
But that basket would be the last for the Skiers.
Bath hit a foul shot and Cretti added a key block down the stretch for Roaring Fork.
And Markham drained two free throws wtih 34 second left to extend the lead to 38-34.
Jenna Nicholson finished the scoring with a fastbreak layup for the Rams with 12 seconds to play.
Markham led the balanced Rams with nine points. Cretti and Bath added eight each. Udall scored seven and grabbed 12 rebounds. Rochel added six for the Rams.
Suiter led all scorers with 10 points. Muriel Hale, with three 3-pointers, added 10 for the Skiers.
The victory ensured the Roaring Fork girls a berth in the expanded 32-team 3A State Tournament as one of six qualifiers from the 11-team Western Slope League.
The Rams will play for a possible District title and seeding position in the state bracket today and Saturday.
The Roaring Fork girls (13-5) will play the winner of Thursday’s late game between Cedaredge and Eagle Valley at 6 p.m. Friday at Rifle High School.
Then on Saturday, win or lose, the Roaring Fork girls will play at Palisade High School – in the third-place game (1 p.m.) or the championship (4 p.m.).
In other first-round girls action at the District Tournament, Basalt defeated Olathe 67-43, Rangely defeated Paonia 67-59 and Cedaredge edged Eagle Valley 71-51.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.