Senior duo set for last hurrah
Aaron Markham drives to the basket. The opposing defense collapses to him. He kicks the ball out to Nic Lough for a wide-open 3-pointer.The play seems to unfold in the first few minutes of every Roaring Fork boys basketball game. And, more often than not, the Rams take an early lead and roll to another victory.”It’s just kind of personal play,” Markham said.”When you have a stud point guard it works really well,” Lough said.”You’ve got to have a good shooter, though,” Markham responded.It’s not the only play in the duo’s repertoire. They started playing basketball on the playground together in fourth grade. When the two started playing organized hoops together in sixth grade, parents and coaches immediately began looking forward to seeing the shifty point guard and the versatile big man on the hardwood together in high school.”The fathers, they have been with us since sixth grade (in middle school basketball) and this is the year they’ve been waiting for,” Lough said. “My dad was talking to us the other night about destiny.”
Whether that destiny includes a state title will begin to be decided tonight when Roaring Fork (20-3) takes on Faith Christian (20-4) in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A boys state championships in Fort Collins. Regardless of the results this weekend, the boys basketball class of 2005 – Lough and Markham – has had one of the most successful runs in Rams history.Early in their prep careers, they were the only freshmen to make the varsity team and the only sophomores to start for the Rams. Last year Roaring Fork advanced to the state semifinals before suffering its only loss of the year and settling for third. Over the past two seasons the Rams are a combined 46-4, undefeated in 3A Western Slope League play and back-to-back winners of district and regional titles. The trip to state this year marks the first time since the mid-70s Roaring Fork has been to state in consecutive seasons.”It’s so special,” Lough said. “We’re so lucky to play with such a good coaching staff, a great team and great fans.” The Rams’ success has by no means been all about Lough and Markham. This season and last featured a number of great players wearing the blue and gold of Roaring Fork. But the connection between the two seniors is special. A coach couldn’t ask for more complementary players. Markham is the court general at point and Lough plays virtually every position on the court – except point guard (he’s never needed to with Markham).”Nic is so good at what he does,” Markham said. “When you have a player like that, it makes my job so much easier. We are lucky to have two positions that are so multi-dimensional. It brings up everybody’s level and opens everybody up.”Markham’s no-look passes often have everyone on the court moving with his eyes, everyone except Lough, who is squaring up for a jumper or cutting to the basket.
“Aaron throws some pretty spectacular passes,” Lough said. “I’m pretty confident he knows where I want them.”The result is more than 18 points per game for Lough and a Class 3A-high 7.7 assists per game for Markham, who also averages more than 14 points per game.Win or lose, this weekend likely will be the final time the classmates and longtime friends play together in competitive organized basketball. Markham plans to take his game to the college level. Lough says, unless he misses it too much, he’s not planning on pursuing basketball beyond high school.”No matter how this ends, it’s been a great ride,” Markham said. “It’s been such a blast. More than wins and losses, it’s just the friendships I’m going to remember.””It’s an experience most kids only dream about,” added Lough. “We’ve learned leadership, how to lose, how to fail.”And don’t forget, how to win.Class 3A State Girls Basketball Playoffs
Quarterfinal, Thursday at CSU’s Moby Arena, Fort CollinsRoaring Fork (20-3) vs. Estes Park (20-4), 7 p.m.Radio: KMTS-FM (99.1)Team LeadersRoaring Fork: Nic Lough, 18.2 ppg; Aaron Markham 14.4 ppg, 7.7 apg, 3.5 spg; Christian Tena, 10 ppg, 7.1 rpg.Faith Christian: Jordan Long, 24 ppg, 5.3 apg; Chad Richard, 13.6 ppg; Luke Gilliland6.2 ppg, 7 rpg.
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