By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
After a competitive Western Slope League season that saw Roaring Fork win one game on a buzzer beater, and Basalt reel off 14 straight wins at one point, the teams take 17-5 and 19-3 records respectively into the 32-team state 3A basketball playoffs starting on March 3.
Meanwhile, Western Slope tournament winner Coal Ridge stays at home on March 3 in its bid to advance beyond the regional leg of the state tournament.
Three of Roaring Fork’s losses this season came at the hands of Basalt, starting with a 52-28 smack down on Jan. 10, followed by closer games on Feb. 3 and 24 (60-59 and 49-42).
The Rams’ Aldo Pinela (a 6’0” senior) leads a balanced Roaring Fork scoring attack with 13.3 points and 3.3 assists per game. Justin Thompson (a 6’3” junior) leads with 5.3 rebounds per game. Ronnie Petatan (a 6’0” junior) leads in steals with 2.1 and Joe Salinas (a 6’2” sophomore) leads in blocks with 0.7 per game. Team-wide, Roaring Fork has averaged just under 50 points per game.
The 18th seeded Rams face 15th seed Denver Manual (15-7) at Manitou Springs High School starting at 6 p.m. on March 3. The Manual Thunderbolts finished second in the Metro League Tournament, and are led by 6’6” sophomore Jaedon Bowles (23 points per game and seven rebounds).
“They are a solid team,” Head Coach Larry Williams told The Sopris Sun. Williams added that the Rams are healthy going into the game and all the players are eligible.
If Roaring Fork defeats Manual, they face the winner of the Manitou Springs (seeded #2) versus Montezuma-Cortez (seeded #31) game at 1 p.m. on March 4. This is the seventh straight year Roaring Fork has made the state playoffs.
The Longhorns (seeded #9) are led by Michael Glen, a senior who is leading the team with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game. Pedro Rivera leads the team with 3.6 assists per game and Paul Torres leads with 1.7 steals.
Two of Basalt’s three loses were to Coal Ridge (58-52 and 57-55 in the Western Slope League tournament final on Feb. 25).
Basalt faces the #24 seeded University High School of Greeley (13-9) at Green Valley Ranch High School in Denver. Tip off is at 5:30 p.m. on March 3.
University is led by Izak Natividad, who is averaging 18 points per game, and Andre Chacon with 5.7 rebounds.
If Basalt makes it past University, they face the winner of the Denver School of Science and Technology (#8 seed) versus The Pinnacle (#25) at 1 p.m. on March 4.
Coal Ridge, located between Silt and New Castle, is the Western Slope League’s highest seed with a #7 ranking. The Titans (17-5) face Frontier Academy (14-8/ranked #25) at home at 7 p.m. on March 3.
If Coal Ridge wins, they take on the winner of the Sterling versus Buena Vista game at 2 p.m. on March 4.
During the season, Coal Ridge lost to Colorado Academy (74-58), Cheyenne South (52-44), Moffat County (62-60), Eagle Valley (72-63) and Resurrection Christian (76-73).
As is so often the case in 3A boys basketball, Kent Denver (a private school) enters the first round of the state playoffs seeded #1, according to the Maxpreps.com website. Manitou Springs is the #2 seed.
The 3A state final game will be played at the University of Denver at 6 p.m. on March 11.
Published in The Sopris Sun on March 2, 2017.