FORT COLLINS (3/10/11) – The Overtime Express that carried the Roaring Fork Rams into the Great 8 of the 3A boys state basketball tournament, while it didn’t quite turn into a pumpkin, took a left turn into the consolation bracket Saturday morning when Jefferson Academy, the fifth place team out of the Metro League, overcame an 11-point Roaring Fork lead early in the second half to defeat the Rams, 48-44 at CSU.
Jefferson (18-7, seeded 15th), which eliminated undefeated Colorado Springs Christian from the Sweet 16 in four overtimes last weekend, got into foul trouble in the second quarter as the Rams (17-8, seeded 7th) made 7 of 9 free throws to take a 23-17 halftime lead. The Jaguars had scored the first 5 points of the game, but Roaring Fork tallied the last 8 of the first quarter for an 8-5 opening margin.
Jake Strack-Loertscher, who put in 4-of-5 from the line in the first half, opened the third quarter cleaning up the offensive glass and scoring the Rams’ first 8 points. His 3-point play at the 7:13 mark gave Roaring Fork a 28-17 lead, but the Jaguars had trimmed it to four when the Rams’ 6-4 senior picked up his fourth foul with 3:49 left in the quarter. JA’s 6-5 Jason Propst, carrying three fouls himself, hit both free throws and a put-back on the next possession by Simeon Ukuni tied the score.
Trae Moxley scored twice in the final two minutes for brief leads but the Jaguars matched it and the game was tied at 35 heading into the fourth.
A quick six points put Jefferson up 41-35 just 1:35 into the period, and despite Moxley’s basket after a time out, Roaring Fork trailed by eight, 45-37, with 3:46 remaining.
Showing the grit that led to overtime five times in the last three weeks, including both their first and second round regional wins at home last weekend, the Rams rallied. Trent Reeds and Strack Loertscher scored on in-bound plays and Dalton Handy’s 3-pointer sliced the lead to one, 45-44 with 1:05 left.
But Julian Schmidt went coast-to-coast with a layup and two additional treys by Handy were off the mark, sending Jefferson to the Final Four against the Valley, which defeated Brush, 56-45.
The Rams will face the Beetdiggers (17-8, no. 27) at 11:45 a.m. Friday. Strack Loertscher led all scorers with 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds before fouling out with nine seconds to play. Moxley added 8 points and 8 boards for the Rams, with Handy tallying 7 to go with 5 assists.
Ukuni had 15 to lead the Jaguars, followed by 13 from Schmidt and 10 by Propst. The Rams, by winning Friday, would have a chance at the consolation championship to be played at 10 a.m. Saturday. Roaring Fork won that 5th place game in 2007 in the midst of a five-year state playoff run under former coach (now Mesa State Lady Maverick coach) Roger Walters.
The Rifle girls, after losing their first game of the season in the state quarterfinals, 50-34 to Eaton Thursday evening, will meet Estes Park in the consolation semifinals right after the Roaring Fork-Brush contest at 1:15 p.m.
All Roaring Fork and Rifle games during the 3A basketball tournament will be carried live on KMTS radio and online at kmts.com..