Undefeated Rams face tough Skiers
CARBONDALE – The Roaring Fork boys basketball team, undefeated through 53 straight 3A Western Slope League games dating back five seasons, faces what many expect will be its biggest test to keep that streak alive this weekend.The Rams, again ranked No. 5 among the state’s top 3A teams according to RockyPreps after going 5-1 through the pre-holiday schedule, return to their home court for a pair of league games, squaring off against Olathe tonight, followed by the big showdown against the Aspen Skiers on Saturday.Varsity game times are 5:30 p.m. for the girls and 7 p.m. for the boys tonight, and 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively, on Saturday.
Roaring Fork coach Roger Walters wants to make sure his team takes care of business against the Pirates on Friday before focusing on Saturday’s task at hand.And no game can go overlooked when there’s a big target on your back, he said.”The kids know, so I don’t have to say a whole lot,” Walters said. “Every team we play gets excited to play us. We have to be at our best to answer that.”Aspen, which holds a No. 10 RockyPreps ranking, made a statement to open the league season last Saturday, downing Hotchkiss on the road 94-24 to improve to 4-2 on the young season.All-state power forward Cory Parker led the Skiers with 24 points, Tommy Rittenhouse had 21 and Michael Taylor added 19. And with the win, Aspen looked more like the team that many picked to knock off Roaring Fork and claim the WSL title this season.”They’re a great team, which is why they’ve been picked to win the conference,” Walters said of the Skiers. “In order to win the conference, we have to start somewhere. It will be a big challenge for us.”
Walters said the Rams match up well with the Skiers, from the big guys in the middle to the guards out front.”They’re quick and aggressive, and a good, solid all-around team,” Walters said. “They have the same kids back from last year, and if you’re juniors playing a full season of varsity, that carries over and makes you pretty tough. It should be a great game.”Roaring Fork lost four of its five starters to graduation last year after making another trip to the 3A state tournament, finishing as the consolation (fifth place) winner. But the Rams returned with All-League 6-foot-8 center Torrey Udall, and added some talent in the back court with Austrian foreign exchange student Matthias Weissl.Weissl is currently ranked second in the state in scoring, averaging 25.17 points per game, five spots ahead of Aspen’s Parker, who is averaging 21.5 ppg. Udall is ranked just behind Parker at 20.17 ppg.Walters knows the game very likely will come down to who plays the tougher defense.”Defensively, we have to do a better job of recognizing where the shooters are, and get to them a little quicker,” he said. “We have to block out, so we can get the rebound and push the ball up the floor.”
Meanwhile, Aspen hosts downvalley rival Basalt tonight.”First of all, we’ve got to beat Basalt,” Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said after last weekend’s win. “All season long, though, we’ve had Roaring Fork penciled in. It’s a must-win. The league title is on the line. We’ll just have to have a great defensive effort.”In practice, Ketchum said he has been preparing his team for the Rams by challenging them to be more physical.”The rap on the Aspen kids is that they’re these spoiled rich kids, and to everybody else, they’re weak and soft,” Ketchum said. “That’s what I’m looking at in practice. … We’re literally trying to play a Roaring Fork style of ball. They’ll go through you, over you and not worry about you when getting a loose ball, and we’ve got to play the same way.”(Aspen Times sports writer Nate Peterson contributed to this report.)
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