As the Roaring Fork High School (RFHS) Rams’ boys varsity basketball game against the Coal Ridge Titans was about to start the evening of Saturday, Feb. 12, fans were filing in. Loud cheering, particularly from the RFHS student section, who were stomping their feet, commenced.
As Rams head coach Jason Krieling said, “I have had many people tell me that they really enjoy coming to our games because this team is a lot of fun to watch.”
The boys did their traditional pregame huddle with a chant, “We won’t be beat.” Unfortunately for the Rams, this time, that did not turn out to be the case.
Junior, River Byrne, scored the first point with a layup to start the game. The Rams worked as a team, highlighted by a notable save by senior Mason Smith where he kept in bounds and passed to Ze Pina for a layup in the second quarter.
The Titans scored a number of baskets from the three-point range; James Webber scored five, and Andrez Mendoza scored one.
Although Byrne intercepted a pass with two minutes left in the second quarter, the Titans led by 15 points, with a score of 27-12 at half-time.
In the second half, the Rams upped their offense with stunning ball handling by Aaron Varela, helping to break the Titan’s full-court press. In the third quarter, Varela passed to Pina multiple times, who made some highly contested layup shots leading to additional foul shots for the Rams. The Rams closed the gap in the third quarter, with Byrne making a mid-range buzzer beater in the quarter’s final seconds.
When asked about the shot, Byrne said, “We were just gaining momentum and I heard the crowd counting down the numbers on the clock. I knew that getting us a bucket here would give us a spark leading into the 4th quarter.”
With 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and the score at 53-47 (Titans), the Rams called a timeout. The Rams student section chanted the traditional “R-O, R-O-A, R-O-A-R-I-N-G, Roaring Fork” cheer to lift the players’ spirits. Unfortunately, the Titans kept the lead and ended with a 58-47 victory.
Girls varsity also had a challenging game against the Titans on Saturday night, with a 56-29 win for the Titans. Although the Rams struggled to get ahead, it was a close first quarter with the Titans leading by only a few points.
The Rams kept on the Titans’ heels with freshman Carly Crownhart making a three-pointer with ten seconds left in the first. Ending the quarter with a 7-12 score, it looked as though it could be a close game. The Titans started pulling away slowly, basket by basket, in the second quarter. The Titans made quick and organized plays, sneaking into holes in the Rams’ defense and making uncontested layups. Despite their loss, the girls’ team kept positive attitudes and cheered on the boys during their subsequent game.
The Saturday games concluded the Rams home schedule for the season. They celebrated Senior Night by honoring the ten seniors on the boys’ and girls’ squads.
Mason Smith, who played all four years with the Rams, told the crowd before the game that “Roaring Fork is truly a special program and it has taught me so many great life lessons.” Each senior had an opportunity to address the fans, and many of them left the audience with heartwarming reflections. Many seniors thanked their parents, like Macey Peery, who said she “would also like to thank [her] parents for coming to every game they could and being a supportive face in the crowd.”
Although the Rams didn’t come away with victories, their love for one another shone through. As Krieling said, “Our win-to-loss record does not always show how much some of these players are working in practice to become better players and teammates.”
The Rams boys lost to Aspen 66-36 on Feb. 15. The boys will play a pre playoff game against North Fork, Saturday, Feb. 19. The girls head to the playoffs on Feb. 22.