Hot-shooting Rams top Skiers to win district crown

Roaring Fork High School’s boys basketball team brought the rain Saturday — and it washed away any hopes the Aspen Skiers had of repeating as Class 3A Western Slope League District Tournament champions.

Daulton Handy and Dakotah Grett each scored 14 points to pace a balanced scoring attack for the Rams, who hit 9 of 17 3-pointers and finished 20-for-34 shooting for the game in their 60-55 victory in the WSL’s district tournament title game at Palisade High School.

“We’re on cloud nine right now,” said Handy, who finished 3 of 4 from 3-point range. “All year long we felt like we were definitely one of the top teams in our league. I wouldn’t say this was unexpected, but we weren’t cocky going into this thinking we were definitely going to win it all.”

Roaring Fork (15-7) had to knock off the league’s top two teams in the regular season — Aspen and Grand Valley — to win it all. It earned the Rams the right to host a regional round in this week’s Class 3A State tournament for the first time in four years and, likewise, earned them their sixth consecutive victory dating back to their 56-53 loss Feb. 11 at Aspen.

“I wasn’t real happy with the turnovers we had in the fourth quarter,” Roaring Fork coach Larry Williams said. “In Aspen, when that happened, we ended up losing. We made baby steps today. I think that was on the forefront of our minds when they were coming back, as if to say, ‘Oh God, here we go again.’ But you’ve got to give credit to Aspen, because they force you to throw those bad passes.”

Bridger Dawson scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the second half and Quinn Morehead added 10 to pace the Skiers (14-8), who nearly rallied from a 14-point deficit early in the fourth quarter. Aspen forced twice as many turnovers in the fourth quarter (six) as they did in the first half, coming within 54-53 with 1 minute, 15 seconds remaining.

“When we started the season, I would have been thrilled to just finish in the top half of our league,” Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said. “We had no starters back, no experience and most of our kids did not work hard in the offseason. We shouldn’t have been here, and the fact we were here and almost pulled it off is a tremendous credit to them.”

A steal and layup from Jake Strack Loertscher gave the Rams a 46-32 lead with just under 6 minutes left to play. But that’s when the Skiers rallied, as A 3 from the 6-foot-6 Dawson with 1:15 left capped a 22-8 Aspen run to bring the Skiers within 54-53.

Aspen, however, was forced to foul. The Rams hit 5 of 8 free throws in the final minute.

State tournament pairings will be announced by the Colorado High School Activities Association late this afternoon.

Coal Ridge 63, Grand Valley 57: Nathan Terrin scored 19 points and McCade Cox added 17 points and three 3s for the Titans, who held off a Grand Valley comeback in the second half in the third-place game.

The Cardinals, after being down 25-19 with 2:51 left before halftime, went up 38-33 on a 3-pointer from Omar Melendrez with 5:07 left in the third quarter. But a 3 from Tyler Guettler less than a minute later put the Titans back on top at 39-38, and Guettler’s three-point play with 2:57 left in the game gave Coal Ridge a 61-50 cushion.

“Our bench really stepped up in the second half,” Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey said. “They were sloppy in the first half, but in the second half, they made the plays that led to layups, which is what we needed.”

Melendrez had 23 points and Trevor Smith added 10 for Grand Valley, which was limited to just 18-of-61 shooting from the field.

Olathe 51, Gunnison 50: Richard Tafoya scored 13 points in the fifth-place game to go with a game-high 15 from Taylor Carlson, helping the Pirates clinch the district’s final state tournament berth.

Gunnison faced an early eight-point deficit and nearly rallied. Connor Clark had 12 and Christian Agular 10 for the Cowboys.


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