Upsets, comeback highlight 3A District basketball quarterfinals
Upsets ruled the night on the boys side of the 3A Western Slope District basketball tournament quarterfinal round for area teams, as No. 7 Aspen knocked off the No. 2 Coal Ridge Titans, 61-59 in overtime, and No. 6 Roaring Fork handed the No. 3 Grand Valley Cardinals a 38-36 shocker.
Meanwhile, the Roaring Fork girls needed to mount a second-half comeback to stay true to their higher No. 4 seed in the tournament over No. 5 Coal Ridge, 48-41.
Elsewhere, on the boys side, top-seed Gunnison handled No. 9 Olathe, 76-51, and No. 5 Delta beat No. 4 Moffat County, 72-55.
Roaring Fork faces Aspen and Gunnison draws Delta in the semifinals Friday night at Grand Junction Central High School.
In the other girls tournament games, No. 3 Grand Valley beat No. 6 Moffat County, 50-34, No. 1 Delta defeated No. 8 Olathe, 64-23, and No. 2 Cedaredge beat No. 7 Basalt, 50-31.
The semifinals pit Roaring Fork against Delta, while Grand Valley plays Cedaredge. The championship and third-place games for both the boys and girls will be played Saturday.
Skiers skate past Titans
The boys’ thriller of the night saw the Aspen Skiers (13-8) jump out to a 32-29 lead at halftime over host Coal Ridge (14-6).
The Titans regained the lead, outscoring the Skiers 14-8 in the third, before Aspen mounted a 13-10 run, including a 3-pointer and a free throw from Lucas Lee near the end of regulation to send it into overtime knotted at 53 apiece.
Coal Ridge regained the lead, 59-57 in the extra frame, but the Skiers again had the last word to win it.
“Congratulations to Aspen. They played tremendously tonight, which is a testament to their players’ hard work and coach (Alex) Strempf’s dedication,” Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey said afterward. “We’re proud of our guys for battling the whole night and competing at the highest level. We’ll learn from this, grow as men and basketball players, and get ready for the 32-team state bracket next week.”
Brader Korpela and Taylor Akin led the Skiers in the scoring column on the night, each with 18 points, while Coal Ridge’s Austin Gerber led all scorers with 25 points, including four 3-pointers.
The Roaring Fork boys (6-14) built a slim lead in the fourth quarter versus the Grand Valley Cardinals (12-8) in Parachute Tuesday night and held on to make their own District Tournament noise headed into the semifinal round.
“Our defense was special tonight,” Rams coach Tony Gross said. “We played our best game of the season so far, and are looking forward to the district semifinals.”
The Rams opened up a 17-12 lead at the half, and maintained the one-point lead after the third quarter and kept the edge through the final eight minutes of play, led by Graham Pietch with 14 points and Alex Jaquez with eight. Grand Valley’s Emilio Garcia had 18 on the night.
Roaring Fork girls roll on
In Carbondale, the host Rams (13-7) girls found themselves down 21-15 at halftime to Coal Ridge (11-9), before clamping down with the defensive pressure.
The Rams retook the lead 31-28 after three periods of play, and the fourth quarter was all Roaring Fork, as the Rams prevailed 48-41 behind 16 points from senior Caroline Wisroth and 12 from junior Maya Lindgren.
“I think we just needed to calm down and do what we do best, and get our heads back in the game,” Wisroth said. “It was a good learning experience, because now we know that if we’re down we can come back, and if we just do the basic things and play good fundamental basketball, which we know how to do.”
Next up is the Western Slope League champion Delta Panthers (17-3), who defeated Roaring Fork 51-39 during the regular season.
“It’s going to take a lot of focus and a lot of good basketball, using our heads and playing as a team,” Wisroth said of the Rams’ prospects to make it to the District championship game. “I think we have what it takes.”
Coal Ridge had its chances, but couldn’t quite handle the Rams defensive pressure.
“We couldn’t take care of the basketball in the second half,” Coal Ridge coach Clyde Morgan said. “We had eight turnovers in the first half, and finished the game with 22. Hats off to their defense, they put a hurt on us tonight.”
Both Coal Ridge teams now have to rely on their state RPI rankings to determine where they will be headed in the regional round of the 3A state playoffs next week. After the Tuesday losses, the boys were at No. 15 and the girls were ranked 27th.
The top two teams from each of the seven district tournaments automatically advance to the 32-team state tournament, and the remaining 18 teams are selected based on the RPI rankings. District champions are guaranteed to host a regional if they rank in the top 16.
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