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AHS boys b-ball falters at districts

Tim Mutrie

The No. 1 seed Aspen High boys basketball team got bounced from the Class 3A Western Slope League District Tournament in the semifinals Friday, though the team remains a playoff contender.

Aspen, the Class 3A Western Slope League champs and the top seed in the district tournament, lost to No. 4 Gunnison 50-39 in Friday’s semifinal. However, because Aspen won its league outright, the Skiers have an automatic berth to the regional tournament, which opens Saturday.

“It was a total team effort in our suckiness,” Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said of Friday’s game. “We just didn’t have it.”

Six days after Aspen beat Gunnison 53-40 in the final game of the regular season, Gunnison spoiled Aspen’s bid to add a district tournament title to its 2000-2001 resume.

“This is as bad as we have played all year, and we were still leading 35-29 going into the fourth quarter,” Ketchum said.

The fourth, a quarter when Aspen normally comes alive, brought just four points for Aspen, all courtesy of sophomore point guard Nick Farrell, compared to Gunnison’s 24.

“We had a lot of mental mistakes, crazy passes and unwarranted turnovers,” Ketchum said. “It was amazing we were even in the game. With two minutes left, it was a four-point game, and we just couldn’t hit a shot.”

Gunnison went on to beat Eagle Valley in the finals Saturday, though both teams earned berths to the regional tournament. Had Aspen won the district tournament, the team would have locked up a home game for the regional tourney. Now, the team will have to play on the road.

“Our kids are down because they feel like they really blew it,” Ketchum said. “But at the same time, and Nick Farrell said it best, even if we won Friday and Saturday, we’ll still need to win this Saturday. It’s still all about that one game, and we’ve got as good a chance as anybody to get to the state tournament. And I like our chances.”

The 16-team 3A regional tournament, slated for Saturday, actually features just one round of games. The eight winners advance to the state tournament, scheduled for March 9-11 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

“If we were going to play a bad game, [Friday] is when we wanted it to happen,” Ketchum said. “And hopefully, we got that bad game out of our system and now we can prepare for the next.

“We’re not taking a break,” the coach continued. “We really need to improve defensively. The rest is just mental.”

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Posted: Monday, February 26, 2001


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