Last year Fouts took his Ridgway Demons team to the 1A State Tournament, where they climbed to the Final Four and beat their fiercest rivals, the Ouray Trojans, for the third-place ranking. It was the first time in over a decade that a Ridgway boys’ basketball team had cracked the code for entry into the State basketball tournament. Fouts said this week that he feels his team can do it again in 2011, even playing at their new 2A level; the team must find some consistency as the post-season approaches, however, for their State aspirations to become reality.
“We need to find some consistency with our players and get things stable with our lineups. If our team can mature like that towards the end of the year we’ll be hard to beat, because we’ve got a lot of talent,” Fouts said of this year’s Demons basketball crew, who currently stand at a 7-4 record overall.
The team suffered its first loss in weeks Saturday, as Plateau Valley gave Demons starters Josh Crozier, Sawyer Firkins, Tanner Skalla, Dusty Woodruff, and Alex Radovonovich a tough matchup, and Ridgway fell short of the win in a close 60-56 game. Fouts chalked the loss to a lingering lack of consistency, but says he feels confident that the team can rally to make the improvements they need to and find the chemistry they’ve been lacking, which could lead them into another victorious post-season.
“I think we’ve got a shot at doing it again,” Fouts says of winning a State tournament berth this season, “but that has a lot to do with if we can make the improvements we need to make.”
Ridgway will have to find their groove quickly if they hope to post a win over neighboring rivals Ouray, whom they’ll meet this Friday (Jan. 28) in Ouray. In the first game of the 2010-11 season, Ouray sought payback for their State loss to the Demons at the end of last season, coming out of the starting gate with renewed vigor and beating the Demons 69-55.
“I think we assumed we were going to see the same team back again this year and that we’d just pick up where we left off after last season; so, I don’t think we came out with the same intensity – but Ouray did, as they always do, and so we struggled against them,” Fouts said of the early season loss to Ridgway’s historically fiercest rivals, who now stand at a 7-3 record. Key to beating Ouray in Trojan territory this weekend will be matching the Trojans’ intensity, and also slowing down Trojan points leader Chris Cramp, Fouts said.
The Demons then host the Dolores Bears, a team they have relatively little history with since the Bears are a 2A team (Ridgway’s schedule thus far this season has pitted them mostly against their old 1A rivals in non-conference games.) The Saturday matchups are slated to begin at 4 p.m.