Rams hold off Skiers boys
PALISADE – Any team that’s run into the powerhouse that is Roaring Fork this season has needed its absolute best effort to even knock on upset’s door.Aspen got off a knock or two, but was left stranded on the porch after a late run propelled the Rams to a 45-40 win and the 3A District 2 boys basketball title at Palisade High School on Saturday.When push came to shove in the second half, it was all Roaring Fork, which outscored the Skiers 12-8 in the fourth quarter after escaping the third up by one. And it took a last-second 3-pointer by Kyle Raaflaub to net that lead.The close result frightened never-satisfied coach Roger Walters, who feels better mental consistency from his kids and himself is needed to legitimately challenge for a state title.”We’re going to have to get a lot better,” he said. “Mentally, we made too many mistakes. Too many missed assignments, fouling jump shooters. We don’t do that. It’s poor coaching. I have to have them prepared better.”Aspen dictated the pace of the game in the opening half, moving the ball around in a Roaring Fork-like manner and finding open jump shots in the process. The result was a 25-23 halftime lead.”They were frustrated,” Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said. “They had a hard time defending. We were running no set plays, just give-and-goes, passing and cutting. We were finding the open man and had them swatting at us.”But Walters and the Rams – like a good football team with a clock-chewing ground game – wrestled back control of the game’s pace in the second half.Roaring Fork limited Aspen to just 15 second-half points and did just enough offensively to get by in wrapping up a fourth straight district tourney title. Add that to the fourth consecutive Western Slope League titles the Rams bagged during the regular season.”It’s a cool feeling,” Roaring Fork senior Kade Gianinetti, who finished with 12 points and had a momentum-building steal and resulting fastbreak layup in the fourth quarter. “I’m just excited we get to host regionals. We came in second [in state] last year, so hopefully we can put it together.”Gianinetti battled a recurring nose bleed throughout the game and had to check out a few times because of it [that forced him to sit on the bench a few times?]. In what proved to be a comical turn of events early in the fourth quarter, the officials ordered the senior off the court with blood on his shorts. Teammate Alex Hernandez jumped to his aid, quickly swapping shorts with Gianinetti, the exchange drawing a chuckle from the crowd.Because of inclement weather, some district games were rescheduled for Sunday, and the state playoff bracket won’t be set until today. By virtue of their title, the Rams are guaranteed their first game will be at home.Junior Torrey Udall led Roaring Fork with 14 points and seven rebounds. Raaflaub, who saw limited action due to foul trouble, ended the night with nine points. Twins Tyler and Trevor Hunt finished with five points apiece.The Skiers were led by 6-foot-6 center Cory Parker, who finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and two four-point plays. It’s rare to see one four-point play in a game, but Parker twice found himself on the line after draining 3-pointers. Brian Westerlind added 12 points, the only other Skier in double figures.”That would have been a great state championship game,” Ketchum said. “Roger Walters is a great coach. They always do exactly what they need to do to win.”
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