‘Horns win big | AspenTimes.com

‘Horns win big

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado

Aspen's Cory Parker pulls down a rebound in the first half of Friday night's game against Steamboat Springs.

HOTCHKISS For much of the season Basalt boys basketball coach Mike Green has searched for a way to overcome his team’s inconsistent play.Friday in Hotchkiss, the “magic light bulb” finally went on for the Longhorns, Green said. Basalt produced its best effort of the season, dominating the Bulldogs from the opening tip. They opened up an 18-point halftime lead and, on the strength of 20 points from guard Connor Rakowski, rolled to the 71-37 victory.The win followed a string of up-and-down play for Basalt, which had lost its previous two games to Aspen and Gunnison. The Longhorns are 3-2 since starting 0-7 and sit fourth in the 3A Western Slope standings.”They decided to come and play,” Basalt head coach Mike Green said Tuesday. “We were very disciplined and patient. You never know what these kids can do if they put four full quarters together.”The Longhorns used a balanced attack and took care of the ball on offense to jump ahead. Five players scored eight or more points for Basalt, which committed just four turnovers in the first half and 14 in the game.

The Longhorns were not content to throw up shots from the outside. Instead, Green said they moved the ball around the perimeter and found open spaces down low. Despite having standouts Duncan McDaniel and Taylor Foreman-Niko sitting out most of the second quarter with foul trouble, Basalt managed to extend its lead and took a 36-18 advantage into the break. The defense was just as strong: The Longhorns stifled the Bulldogs’ big men down low and surrendered just two three-pointers all game.They will look to maintain its momentum Friday when they host Coal Ridge, then travel to Roaring Fork. The Longhorns outlasted the Titans, 77-73, on Jan. 12; the league-leading Rams crushed Basalt, 58-35, on Dec. 19. “Hopefully the kids are feeling good about themselves,” Green said. “They know they’re capable of doing anything on any given night. We’re competing well.”Aspen continues hot streak

Junior standout Cory Parker scores 31 points, the Aspen boys basketball team plays arguably its best half all year and wins by 12, and yet Cedaredge walks off the court smiling?It happened Friday when host Aspen nearly watched its 22-point halftime advantage disintegrate against the Bruins, who outscored the Skiers, 25-8, during the fourth quarter. There’s reason for Aspen to be concerned: a confident Cedaredge bunch, which proved it could play with the favored Skiers, hosts Aspen on Friday.”That fourth quarter really left a bad taste in our mouths,” Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said. “It doesn’t matter who you play – if the other team is excited, turned on and believes in themselves, upsets can happen all the time. Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen, and we know it’ll be a much tougher game in Cedaredge.”Still, Ketchum has gone to great lengths to make sure his players put Friday’s events in perspective. The Skiers (10-3 overall, 7-1 3A Western Slope) are 6-0 in 2007 and continue to keep pace with league leader Roaring Fork (8-0 in conference play), which plays Friday at at Hotchkiss.The Skiers also put together one of their strongest offensive halves of the season as they jumped out to a 41-19 lead against the Bruins. Center Michael Taylor scored all 10 of his points and Brian Westerlind 12 of his 15 in the first 16 minutes. And Parker, who is averaging more than 23 points and 10 rebounds per game – both tops in 3A – still managed to top 30 points despite struggling through an off shooting night.

Things went awry, however, in the fourth quarter. Aspen was dominated on the boards and had trouble defending.”We basically sucked at both ends, from our top player to our last player,” Ketchum said. “It didn’t matter if we subbed or called a timeout. We were in a funk, and we couldn’t get out.”As a result, the Skiers walked off their home court defeated, despite the 66-54 win. Ketchum expects his team to rebound Friday and again Saturday when it hosts Gunnison. There’s plenty of motivation.”We don’t want that winning streak to end, that’s for sure,” Ketchum said.Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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