Rams top Longhorns
BASALT – The look on Sean Koutsakis’ face said it all – frustration and disappointment.
The Basalt Longhorn was frustrated by having to sit on the bench after fouling out late in Saturday night’s crucial Western Slope Conference matchup with valley rival Roaring Fork. His team trailed 54-51.
And he was disappointed as he watched the game slip away, knowing there was nothing he could do except cover his face with a towel as the Rams escaped the Big House with a 62-58 win in a thrilling game.
The loss drops the Longhorns, who crushed Rangely Friday night, to 6-3 in the WSC standings and 11-5 overall. The Longhorns are in third place behind Olathe (7-2) and Roaring Fork and Aspen who both are 8-1.
All trail league leader Eagle Valley, which sits atop the WSC at 9-1.
Roaring Fork’s Rams, who defeated Cedaredge Friday night, will host Eagle Valley Thursday night and Aspen Friday to wrap up the regular season.
Thursday also will mark Eagle Valley’s final game in league play. The Devils will play 4A’s Steamboat Springs Friday in a nonleague game.
Aspen, off to its best season ever, will play at Roaring Fork Friday and at Basalt Saturday to close its regular season.
If Roaring Fork can beat Eagle Valley and Aspen, the Rams will win the WSC championship.
If Eagle Valley defeats the Rams, the Devils will win the league because they defeated Aspen earlier this season.
Aspen would win the league championship if the Skiers defeat both Roaring Fork and Basalt. But Aspen also would need Roaring Fork to beat Eagle Valley.
If Eagle Valley and Aspen end up with identical records, the Devils will win the league title because of the win over Aspen.
The Longhorns could end up at 8-3 if they defeat both Cedaredge (Friday) and Aspen (Saturday). But the Horns have no chance at winning a third straight league title because both Roaring Fork and Eagle Valley have defeated them. The game On Saturday at the Big House, the Longhorns jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead behind six points from junior Michael Palmer and four from senior center Forrest Woolery.
Roaring Fork coach Make Fahrenkrug took a timeout to regroup and the Rams came out of the break on fire – led by the coach’s son, Kris Fahrenkrug.
The Rams’ defense forced four consecutive Basalt turnovers and turned them into 12 points – six from Kris Fahrenkrug – to take a 16-12 lead heading into the second period.
The Rams continued their scoring spree as they opened the period with a 5-0 run to take a commanding 21-12 lead that silenced the Big House crowd.
After a pair of free throws from Woolery, Kris Fahrenkrug added a long 3-pointer and two free throws to make matters worse for Basalt as Roaring Fork took a 26-14 lead.
The Longhorns then went on a 7-0 run to cut the Rams’ lead to five, 26-21. But Roaring Fork outscored Basalt 6-4 to take a 32-25 halftime lead.
Roaring Fork came out in the third period on fire as the Rams took a 41-28 lead with just under four minutes left in the period.
Then, the Longhorns came alive.
Woolery scored two straight inside buckets and fellow big man John Stahlman scored off a Koutsakis miss – and he was fouled.
Stahlman converted the free throw, cutting Roaring Fork’s lead to six, 41-35.
Koutsakis then hit a pair of free throws after a he was fouled during a mad scramble for the ball.
A Roaring Fork turnover resulted in another inside bucket for Woolery.
Basalt forced a second straight turnover and Woolery scored his eighth point in a minute to tie the game at 41-41 at the end of the third period.
The Big House crowd went into a frenzy and Woolery was mobbed by his teammates walking to the bench.
In the final period, Roaring Fork surged to a 53-48 lead at the 3:30 mark, forcing BHS coach Bill Crowley to take a timeout.
Basalt then came to within four (54-51), but Koutsakis then fouled out and the Rams managed to hang onto the lead the remainder of the game.
Woolery led Basalt with 20 points. Palmer added nine while Rodney Crawford pitched in with eight.
Kris Fahrenkrug led the Rams with 20 points.
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Don’t freak out if you see helicopters hovering over the Roaring Fork Valley backcountry or fixed-wing aircraft making repeated trips. It is part an annual wildlife study by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.