Rams win big over Devils to stay atop 3A Slope
The Eagle Valley boys basketball team went blow-for-blow with heavyweight Roaring Fork early on in Friday night’s 3A Slope slugfest, but couldn’t answer the bell in the waning rounds as the Rams won in knockout, 60-39.
With the win the Rams held onto their league leading title belt for another night as the Devils dropped to 11-2 in Slope play, their only two losses coming at the hands of Roaring Fork.
“You’ve got to give Roaring Fork credit,” said Devils coach Phil Cain. “They came out and played good defense. We’re disappointed with ourselves and the way we played, but on the other hand, we know we have another opportunity to improve this week.”
The Devils jumped on the Rams early as Cody Gerard knocked down an open jumper and then buried a 3-pointer to jump out to an early 5-2 advantage, the Devils’ only lead of the night.
The Rams swung back and kept the punches coming, though, going on a 7-0 run to steal back the momentum. The action flip-flopped back and fourth throughout the remainder of the first period, as both teams played aggressively at both ends of the floor, each squad trying to out hustle the other – but the Rams had more success on offense, taking a 17-12 lead into the second quarter.
The Rams were keyed by big man Nic Lough in the paint as well as shifty point guard Aaron Markham, who dropped in two put-backs off rebounds to open the game up.
Gerard propped up the Devils’ struggling offensive attack in the opening period, dropping in 10 of Eagle Valley’s 12 points, but it was not without incurred damage as he picked up two early fouls that would hurt him later on.
The fight swung in Eagle Valley’s favor in the second quarter with the Devils going on the offensive behind baskets from Jerad Schlegel, Sean Bartlett and free throws from Gerard. The Devils got as close as being down, 22-20, before the Rams picked up the pace.
Down by 11 at the break, the Devils tried to hang in the game in the third quarter as best they could with their star player Gerard on the bench with four fouls, but they couldn’t sustain any momentum offensively.
The Rams, on the other hand saw blood, and continued to apply the pressure both offensively and defensively, pushing the lead to 14 points heading into the final period.
“That stretch in the third quarter after it was 20-31 and then we didn’t score for about three-and-a-half minutes, that was to me the deciding factor in the game,” Cain said. “We never recovered from that moment.”
“We definitely missed Cody,” added Bartlett, who finished with 11 points. “But, that’s not a good excuse. We definitely have other good offensive players. We just didn’t get it done. He is a big part of our team, but we’ve got to be able to do a little more with him not in there. We were expecting to play a lot better than we did.”
Dan Markoya ad Tommy Joiner were the catalysts behind the Rams’ third-quarter offensive surge as Joiner scored the first three Roaring Fork buckets for six points and Markoya added three.
Markoya’s one field goal in the period came off a rocket backdoor pass from Markham that found the 6-foot-4 senior all alone under the hoop for the easy put-in.
With the Rams leading by 46-32 heading into the fourth quarter, the damage to the Devils had already been done, but the Rams didn’t let up.
Eagle Valley did get as close as 49-37 after Bartlett sank his second 3-pointer of the game, but it was the last blow in a losing fight as the Rams closed out the game with eight consecutive points for the lopsided win to remain unblemished in league play.
“I’m just really tickled for the kids,” said Rams coach Roger Walters. “We beat a quality team tonight. They are really athletic and well-coached. We caught them on a good night because they didn’t shoot very well, but our kids executed at both ends of the floor and I’m really proud of them.”
Lady Rams win too
The Lady Devils gave the No. 1 3A team in the state a good scare on Friday the 13th, but the Lady Rams didn’t flinch in the end, pulling away from a close four-point game in the fourth quarter to win convincingly, 70-59.
“They are the No. 1 team in the state,” said Devils coach Mike Vidakovich. “We cut it to 57–53, but they came right out of a timeout and they answered our run with another run. They never really panicked or anything.”
The Lady Rams started out slow in the first quarter as Eagle Valley shot out to a 16-8 lead behind the precision shooting of guard Rachel Sandoval. The sophomore cracked open a 6-6 tie midway through the first quarter with two consecutive 3-pointers, one coming off of a steal from senior point guard Trista Sandoval.
The Devils couldn’t keep up the pressure, though as the Lady Rams surged back to go on a 10-0 run to close out the quarter up by two points.
The SportsCenter highlight of the night came on the last shot of the period when Roaring Fork’s Carly Velasquez received a wide open pass from point guard Ashley Jenson and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Roaring Fork would never relinquish its lead, although it didn’t pull away, either, until the game’s closing minutes.
The key to the Lady Rams’ attack was a steady diet of senior center Tarn Udall in the paint, seasoned with a little bit of Megan Zeigel, Laura Wright and Jenson.
Udall finished with 18 points on the night to go with 19 rebounds and Zeigel and Wright added eight and 10, respectively.
The Devils almost single-handedly stayed in the game behind the shooting of Sandoval, who finished with a game-high 20 points against the Rams, nailing six 3-pointers.
“We really wanted to beat the Rams,” said Sandoval. “We gave it our all, but I felt like we could have followed our coaches’ directions a little better. I think we relied on the outside shot too much.”
Kenzie Shreeve also helped out with 10 points, but was also shut down in some of the game’s crucial moments, specifically in the third quarter and the last half of the fourth quarter.
“At the end, we started shooting long ones, and I don’t think Kenzie touched the ball the last three minutes of the game,” said Vidakovich. “We want to go inside out, but we didn’t seem to do that.”
“We always have a tough time here at Eagle Valley,” added Lady Rams coach Jacky Gaddis. “They are so tough and they never let up.”
With the loss, the Devils fell to 6-7 in league play.
Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or via e-mail at email@example.com