ASPEN - Head coach Steve Ketchum said for weeks that he wanted his team to return to how it performed during its opening weekend.
Saturday night, the Aspen boys basketball team took a step in the right direction.
The Skiers, backed by nine 3-pointers and a smothering defense, downed Olathe, 56-27, at home. Three Aspen players scored in double figures, and at one point, the home team led by 25 points.
Ketchum said the win represented a bounce-back from Friday night's overtime loss to Roaring Fork.
"The offense was smoking tonight," he said. "It's what we looked like during opening weekend. We're back. We're so excited that we're canceling practice Monday."
The Skiers began the contest on a 19-4 run backed by two 3-pointers from Luke Rider and seven points from Clayton Crawford. On the defensive end, the Pirates (3-7) struggled to make simple passes around the arc as Aspen's defense intercepted passes.
"We asked them to take some chances tonight, to anticipate and take some chances," Ketchum said.
By halftime, the game was well out of reach for Olathe, as the Skiers led 36-12 - connecting on six shots from 3-point range.
It didn't get much better for the Pirates in the second half, and Aspen pushed its lead to 48-17 after the third quarter.
"We shot really well tonight," Ketchum said. "We're capable of that every night. They were pushing the floor and sharing the ball with their teammates to try and create something for their teammates. No one was selfish."
With two minutes left to play, Ketchum turned to his bench to close out the game and improve to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in Western Slope League play.
"Olathe is a quality program who beat us last year," Ketchum said. "They're capable of playing really well. We just came out smoking."
Rider led all Skiers scorers with 13 points, Crawford had 12, and Trent Lichtenwalter pitched in with eight.
Aspen travels Friday to Gunnison.
By half, the Aspen girls basketball team was down just nine points to Olathe.
The Skiers displayed a stout defense against a team that received votes in the latest Denver Post state coaches' poll, but defense wasn't the issue.
The offense couldn't find the net.
Aspen scored just five points the rest of the game and lost to the Pirates, 47-11. Saturday's loss was the Skiers' fifth loss of the season by more than 30 points.
"We knew we had our hands full going in to it," Aspen head coach Jeremy Haack said. "I'm proud of our effort, and we have a few things to get better at here and there. We have to overcome this right now. We're at the point of the season right now where we're getting banged up with injuries."
Both teams' offenses didn't look inspiring early on. Aspen succumbed to a stingy Pirates half-court defense and scored just six points in the first half. Olathe mustered 15.
"I loved the defensive intensity in the first half," Haack said. "But you have to get the ball in the hole. Against a team like that it's going to be tough, but we're going back to the drawing board and getting better every day."
After the half, the Pirates took command of the game with a 28-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters. The Skiers constantly turned the ball over and couldn't connect passes with consistency.
"That's basketball, and that's something we're going to work on next week," Haack said.
Aspen travels to Gunnison on Friday.