The Aspen High School boys basketball team won a combined 11 games the past two seasons as head coach Alex Schrempf and assistant Cory Parker tried to rebuild a program that was once so mighty under former coach Steve Ketchum.
With 11 wins alone this season, it seems the Skiers may have finally turned a corner.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs through the seasons,” AHS senior Aidan Ledingham said. “Coach Cory and coach Alex and all the coaches have done such a great job of building this program and getting that sense of power and sense of ‘we are going to win games’ this season.”
Aspen capped off its regular season Thursday night with a 68-41 win over rival Basalt inside the AHS gymnasium. The win secured the No. 7 seed in the district tournament for Aspen (11-8, 4-5 Western Slope League), which will likely host No. 10 Cedaredge (4-15, 1-8) on Saturday afternoon to get the postseason started.
“Now they are going out there and fighting. If they do that, in this league anybody can beat anybody,” Schrempf said. “We got ourselves a challenge ahead, but every single game is winnable for any one of these teams.”
Aspen’s win Thursday over Basalt (4-14, 3-5 WSL) won’t officially make it into the record books. The game was considered a “foundation” game due to an overscheduling error on Aspen’s part; teams are only allowed to play 19 regular-season contests. Had BHS won Thursday, the result would have replaced Aspen’s 54-48 win at Basalt from earlier in the season.
As it happened Thursday, Aspen’s first win will remain official. Basalt will enter the district tournament as the No. 8 seed and likely host No. 9 Olathe (3-16, 1-8) on Saturday afternoon. Olathe beat Cedaredge on Thursday night, 49-43, to earn the 9 seed.
“Coach always says our best basketball comes in late February, and we are there right now. It’s exciting to be here and we’re definitely playing the best we have,” AHS senior Jonathan Woodrow said. “We just kept our energy high, didn’t get down at all. We are really starting to play as a team and together and ultimately we are just having fun.”
Woodrow led all players in scoring Thursday with 24 points, while Ledingham added 20. Basalt’s Wish Moore finished with 19 to lead the Longhorns.
BASALT GIRLS 49, ASPEN 14
In the girls game Thursday night, Basalt rolled to a 49-14 win over Aspen to close out its regular season. Unlike the boys game, this game did officially count toward each team’s record.
The Longhorns (8-9, 3-6 WSL) head into the district tournament as the No. 7 seed and will once again face Aspen (3-16, 0-9), the No. 10 seed, on Saturday afternoon in Basalt. Olathe and Gunnison are the No. 8 and 9 seeds, respectively.
“Excited for the challenges that are going to come with the playoffs. I’m excited to see some teams again and hopefully play better against them,” second-year BHS coach Amy Contini said. “It’s been an up-and-down season, but what you haven’t seen is these girls have remained positive the whole way through.”
The eight wins are the most for Basalt since the team went 23-4 in 2007-08, according to the MaxPreps records.
“I would just say the big thing is our team is always keeping positive after a hard loss,” BHS senior Taylor Glen said. “Even if we lose three games in a row, we really stay positive.”
Lopez, Samuelson both move on for Basalt wrestling at state tournament
The Basalt High School wrestling team had both its athletes cruise through first-round matches on Thursday, the opening day of the Class 3A state tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Senior heavyweight Ernesto Lopez needed only 38 seconds to pin La Junta’s Ryan Metzger (8-16) to move onto Friday’s quarterfinals. Lopez (30-3), who won his regional tournament, will face Eaton’s Tanner True (39-6) in the next round.
At 170 pounds, Basalt junior Ruben Samuelson won via a 12-3 major decision over Jefferson’s Randy Duran (31-9) on Thursday. Samuelson (38-1), whose lone loss this season came in the regional final, will face Woodland Park’s Cole Gray (28-2) in Friday’s quarterfinal matchup.