AHS girls beat Rangely to open league
The Aspen High School girls basketball team opened the 3A Western Slope League season last Saturday with a 60-40 victory over the visiting Rangely Panthers. The win pushed the Skiers’ season mark to 6-1 overall and vaulted the team into the top 10 of the state’s 3A rankings at No. 9.
“That’s exactly where we want to be,” said Aspen coach Lance Finkbeiner. “We don’t want to get too high right now, but we want to get some recognition.”
The victory over Rangely, which is expected to be one of the strongest teams in the league, was the second of the new year for the Skiers, who one week earlier took down 4A program Steamboat Springs with an impressive 57-33 win.
Marta Losonczy earned player of the game honors in the win over Rangely with 24 points and six steals coming off the bench. Normally a starter, Losonczy has been slowed by illness and injury and recently found herself relegated to a supporting role.
With Losonczy out of the Aspen lineup, Rangely jumped out to an 8-0 lead, but Finkbeiner went to his bench early and put Losonczy into the game. The move paid off immediately, as the German exchange student scored ten straight points to key a 12-0 Skiers run to give Aspen the lead and set the tone for the rest of the game.
“Marta had a big night,” said Finkbeiner. “She really stepped up with some good defense and gave us a good game.”
Kelli Dangler continued her consistent play, netting 16 points to go along with six assists and earning the team’s heart award for the game. Jill Evans led the Skiers with eight rebounds, Rebecca Anderson had six, and Ellen Falender had seven points and six assists.
The keys to the win, according to Finkbeiner, were the team’s solid defensive effort and a near-perfect showing at the free-throw line.
“Defensively, it was an incredible game,” said the coach. “Our goal was to shut down Rangely’s Nicole Sprunger. She averages about 20 points a game, and we held her to just six.
“And the free throw shooting was really key. We shot 13-of-15 from the line for the game.”
The 20-point edge also allowed Finkbeiner to give some needed minutes to some of his younger players, including Kelly Waldron, who saw action in the fourth quarter.
“We’re trying to get some more depth,” said Finkbeiner, who used eight players in the win.
The Aspen girls will take to the road this weekend for games against league cellar-dwellers Paonia and Eagle Valley. The two teams are a combined 2-17 overall.
“We don’t want to play down to anybody’s level,” said Finkbeiner. “We want to play consistent basketball, and I think we can do that. Right now, we’re just fixing the little things.” Longhorns stay unbeaten In other area girls basketball action, the Basalt Longhorns of coach Debbie Cain ran their record to a perfect 9-0 (2-0 in league) with weekend victories over Olathe and Gunnison. The Longhorns were ranked No. 6 in the state in the latest Rocky Mountain News 3A poll.
“I was pleased we came away with two wins,” said coach Cain. “But it wasn’t our best basketball.
“We talked as a team about how league is different and it showed this weekend. Teams start scouting you now and it makes it tougher. Right now we’re just taking it one game at a time and concentrating on the league.”
Both games were low-scoring affairs all the way, as has been the norm for the defensive-minded Longhorns, with Basalt prevailing 46-43 Friday night over the visiting Olathe Pirates and then dismantling the Gunnison Cowboys 36-15 on Saturday afternoon.
The victory Friday night was keyed by the interior play of Kelli Corrigan, who led the Longhorn attack with 17 points.
Corrigan scored 10 points in the first half to stake Basalt to a 24-18 lead, but the Pirates responded by outscoring the Horns 12-7 in the third period to cut the deficit to 31-30. Basalt guard Ambere Cunningham hit two big 3-pointers down the stretch to help Basalt to the 3-point victory.
Cunningham finished with eight points on the game. Kate LaMaster had seven, and both Ingrid Brucker and Heather Kappeli scored five.
In Saturday’s affair, the Longhorns held Gunnison to a mere two points in the first quarter and never looked back as they picked up their second league win of the season with a standout defensive effort.
LaMaster and Kappeli paced Basalt with eight points apiece in the win. Corrigan added six and Cunningham chipped in with five points as Basalt kept its undefeated record intact.
Next up for the Longhorns will be a home game Friday against Meeker, followed by a road contest at Paonia.
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