Basalt girls go down to rival Rams
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE ” Kathy Vega and Adrianna Romero couldn’t contain their excitement. Making a triumphant trek from the court to the locker room, the Roaring Fork girls basketball players stopped, jumped in place and then gave each other a huge hug.
They had good reason to celebrate.
Running step for step with visiting Basalt, the Rams at long last ended their season-long win drought, topping the Longhorns, 63-59, on Thursday night.
“That feels really good,” Roaring Fork coach Nancy Zeigel said. “To have it be our rival makes it that much sweeter.”
Zeigel’s Rams, now 1-11 overall and 1-8 in the 3A Western Slope, appeared on their way to 0-12 in the game’s early minutes. Basalt’s Ashley Soucie scored the game’s first four points and Heather Nemiec dropped in a bucket to put the visitors up 6-0 right out of the gate. Melissa Stewart added a 3-pointer moments later and the Longhorns were up 9-2 just under two minutes into regulation. But the Rams hustled their way back into the game.
Working hard on the boards and pushing the ball up the floor at a breakneck pace, they whittled the deficit down to five by quarter’s end and jumped out to a 27-26 lead by the time 3:46 showed on the clock in the second quarter.
“We definitely wanted to push the floor more,” Roaring Fork junior Alli Zeigel said. “Watching tape, we definitely thought that was our strong point.”
The lead changed hands seven times in the second quarter, with the Rams taking a 34-32 advantage into the break.
Flashing a brand of energy one wouldn’t expect from a winless team, Roaring Fork outscored the Longhorns 19-14 in the third quarter to go up 53-46. The frame closed on a play that exemplified the Rams’ efforts for the night.
Maria Flores, in her first game back in quite some time after spraining her wrist and ankle, made the front end of a one-and-one with 8.7 seconds left on the clock.
Her second shot rimmed out, but Zeigel flew in for the rebound and was fouled falling out of bounds. Zeigel followed by netting two free throws and a ton of momentum for her team. The Rams somehow weathered a Stewart-led Longhorn charge down the stretch. The senior scored nine of her team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, including a long 3-pointer that pulled Basalt to within two with 13 seconds remaining.
But Roaring Fork countered by busting the Longhorns’ press, working the ball into Joey Clingan’s hands near midcourt. She fired the ball to a wide-open Vega, who banked home the game-icing layup with two seconds left. A jubilant scene followed, with Ram players giddily relishing their first win.
“I think we were all kind of just through with the whole [losing] thing,” said Flores, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds despite a heavily taped ” and hurting ” wrist. “We all wanted it. In the locker room, during pregame, we were pumping up. We’re ready to start the new half of the season. Now we call each other the Ramirillas.”
Ramirilla is a play on Cinderella, whom the Rams hope to emulate down the stretch. Shea Courtney led Roaring Fork with 24 points and 13 rebounds. She also went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. Zeigel chipped in with 18 points.
Ashley Soucie had 16 points for the Longhorns (5-8 overall, 5-5 3A Western Slope).
Omar Lopez jumped in front of the inbound pass, sped in for a breakaway lay-up ” the finishing touch on a 52-48 win over Roaring Fork for the Basalt boys. Lopez, whose lay-up came with 5.2 seconds left in the game, said he knew where the pass was going.
“I knew the guards were going to get it,” said the Longhorns junior, who finished with 13 points and four steals in a game his team seemingly took control of in the third quarter.
Outscoring the Rams 14-5 in the third frame, Basalt took a 41-34 advantage into the fourth. Led by eight fourth-quarter points from Ryan Weimer, Roaring Fork stormed back down the stretch, pulling to within one (48-47) with 2:20. The inbound pass Lopez stole came with 11.3 seconds left.
“As a team, our Achilles heel is that we throw the ball away,” said Rams coach Larry Williams. “It wasn’t just that. We made a lot of errors throughout the game. That play epitomized how we’ve been playing.”
Weimer led Roaring Fork (2-7 overall, 2-10 3A Western Slope) with 18 points and Jake Hawkins chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Dave Gruenefeldt led the Longhorns (3-10, 3-7) with 18 points, hitting four 3-pointers in the process.
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