Third quarter run leads Coal Ridge boys basketball over Roaring Fork | PostIndependent.com

Third quarter run leads Coal Ridge boys basketball over Roaring Fork

Josh Carney
Post Independent

A 12-0 Coal Ridge run to open the third quarter led the Titans boys basketball team to an important 51-36 win Tuesday night in New Castle over the visiting Roaring Fork Rams in a 3A Western Slope League showdown.

The Titans' run helped Coal Ridge shake off a tough close to the first half that saw Roaring Fork battle back from a 12-2 first quarter deficit to make it 19-16 at the half. Coming out of the locker room after some adjustments, the Titans embarked on the quick 12-0 run as senior center Kevin DiMarco started the half off with a layup, before finding senior guard Jesus Camunez out of the high post for a 3-pointer from the right wing. Senior forward Payton White splashed home a 3-pointer from the left wing, DiMarco hit a driving layup, and White hit two free throws before Roaring Fork senior forward Joe Salinas — returning to the lineup for the first time due to an injury — hit a spinning layup to stop the Titans' run.

"I was really pleased with the way our guys responded coming out of the half," said Paul Harvey, Coal Ridge's head coach. "We could see they were collapsing in on Kevin [DiMarco] in the paint when he touched the ball, so we worked off of that. Kevin's a very good passer out of the post, and he found open guys and converted some open looks. Roaring Fork is so good on defense, and they're so hard to penetrate on and get back door cuts on, so you have to find a way to get them out of position.

"The only way that I could think to do that is to pound it into Kevin. The guys did what we asked, and they hit shots."

As the Titans took off offensively, the Rams struggled to hit shots, settling for tough looks against the Titans. As the offensive well dried up a bit in the third quarter, the struggles leaked into the defensive end for the Rams, allowing the Titans to pull away.

"Our shot selection was just not very good," said Larry Williams, Roaring Fork's head coach. "We were taking too quick of shots, and then we weren't playing very good defense. They were getting wide open layups and weren't rotating over on help defense. I think the guys mentally let the shooting struggles get to them on the defensive end, and it just snowballed on us, and Coal Ridge stuck it to us there."

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Coal Ridge stayed hot in the third quarter after Salinas stopped the run, going on a 6-0 run right after as DiMarco hit another layup and dunked off of a backdoor cut, before Camunez hit a layup in transition, pushing Coal Ridge's lead to 37-18 late in the third quarter.

Roaring Fork found its footing after that as senior forward Aidan Sloan hit a tough layup from the right block before senior guard Leo Loya drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner, sending the two teams into the fourth quarter with the Titans holding a 37-23 advantage over the visiting Rams.

The two rivals traded lengthy runs in the fourth quarter as the Titans opened the final stanza with a 10-0 run as junior Austin Gerber splashed home a 3-pointer from the right wing, and White hit a 3-pointer from the left wing. The Rams responded with a 9-0 run to close to within 12 points as Loya hit his second 3-pointer of the half and Sloan hit a layup in transition. Salinas then went to work, hitting a driving layup from the left block before stepping outside for a pull-up 3-pointer, forcing a Coal Ridge timeout.

"I think they played hard the whole game," said Williams. "That's one thing we demand of them, and they always follow through. We just didn't play very smart; we played hard, but not smart."

DiMarco closed out the win over the Rams with two late layups, giving him 21 points in an important win for the Titans as the regular season draws to a close. White added 11 points for the Titans (14-3, 5-3 3A WSL), while Camunez and Gerber added 9 and 6 points, respectively.

"We still have room to grow, but we're improving," said Harvey. "I hope this win is a confidence booster for us. It kind of felt like we're getting back to normal. We want to get better and continue to improve."

Roaring Fork (10-7, 6-2 3A WSL)was led by Sloan with 12 points, while sophomore Graham Pietch chipped in with 11 points. Salinas and Loya added 9 and 6 points each. The Rams host Grand Valley Thursday on Senior Night in a pivotal matchup that will determine seeding in the 3A district tournament.

"The beauty of playing on Thursday is that we don't have time to dwell on this game," said Williams. "We can't sit around and lick our wounds. We have to get ready for Grand Valley. We know how good of a team they are and how well they shoot, so we have to be ready to come out and play some defense."

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Roaring Fork 61, Coal Ridge 43

Shaking off an 0-for-5 first half from the floor Tuesday night in New Castle, Roaring Fork senior center Gabriela Santana exploded for 12 of her 15 points in the second half, leading the Roaring Fork Rams girls basketball team to a much-needed 61-43 win over the host Coal Ridge Titans in 3A Western Slope League action.

Santana went 6-for-7 from the field in the second half, helping the Rams extend their halftime lead from 5 points up to 11 points heading into the fourth quarter, before pulling away for the 18-point win.

"After the first half, I noticed I wasn't really making anything," said Santana. "We talked at the half about making adjustments and needing to take what the defense was giving me, and that's what I did in the second half. I kept that in my head and just kept adjusting and taking what they gave me."

Despite Roaring Fork's 38-point second half, the Rams got off to a slow start on Tuesday night as the Rams and Titans slogged through a foul-filled first half. The first quarter saw the two teams go nearly five minutes without a made field goal before the Rams took a 9-6 lead after one quarter of play. Action picked up in the second quarter as the Rams went on a 6-0 run midway through the quarter to take a 20-10 lead as junior Caroline Wisroth hit a putback shot and a layup in transition to create breathing room against the Titans.

"We got composed there and really settled down, saw how the game was going, and took advantage," said Jade Bath, Roaring Fork's head coach.

Coal Ridge closed to 22-18 late in the quarter as senior Alyssa Wenzel got going for the Titans, hitting a baseline jumper and then converting a 3-point play in transition to head into halftime.

From there, it was all Rams as they put up 20 points in the third quarter, highlighted by two jumpers and a 3-pointer by senior guard Logan Erickson, and a steal and a layup by junior guard Emily Broadhurst, giving the Rams an 11-point lead heading into the fourth.

In the final quarter of play, Roaring Fork (11-7, 4-4 3A WSL) pulled away for good, going on a 10-0 run in the middle of the quarter as Santana hit three jumpers from the high post, closing out the win for the Rams on the road. Santana led the way with 15 points, while Erickson and Wisroth added 12 and 11 points each.

"This was a game that we've needed for several weeks now," said Bath following the win. "This is huge for us. Once we settled down and played our game, things went our way."

For Coal Ridge (10-7, 4-4 3A WSL) sophomore center Taylor Wiescamp led the way with 13 points, while Wenzel added 11 points. The Titans host Moffat County Thursday for Senior Night, which will be the final night of the regular season in the 3A WSL.

Roaring Fork hosts Grand Valley Thursday in Carbondale for Senior Night.