Aspen boys basketball rallies, beats Faith Christian in OT to advance in playoffs
All those cliché sports sayings and storylines about believing in each other and sticking together through the hard times? Well, a lot of that’s true, and the Aspen High School boys basketball team sure believes in the messages.
Down double-digits early, the Skiers kept grinding to battle back and eventually pull out a 61-52 overtime win over visiting Faith Christian on Thursday in the Class 3A state tournament’s Sweet 16 round inside the AHS gymnasium.
“Very, very proud of them, because I think they are starting to believe a lot of it,” Aspen coach Alex Schrempf said. “We didn’t break the seal until about 5:07 into the fourth. But that was the thing was resiliency. Wave after wave of consistent aggression by our guys.”
Aspen, the No. 6 seed, came out flat in front of the most raucous crowd it’s seen at home this season — still severely limited out of COVID-19 precaution — but only trailed 14-8 after a quarter and was within 27-23 at halftime. But No. 11 seed Faith Christian, looking to play spoiler, clung to a 35-32 lead after three quarters before the Skiers’ resiliency began to wear down the Eagles.
AHS finally took a lead midway through the fourth quarter and its defense hung tough on a late possession with the game tied to force overtime. The four extra minutes completely belonged to Aspen, which was able to close out the game mostly from the foul line.
“I knew going into overtime we were going to take over. We had the momentum. They were tired,” said Aspen’s Porter Lee, who noted that Schrempf never got on them too hard even during the early struggles. “He wasn’t harping at us too bad. Of course he was holding us accountable, but he wasn’t down on us at all. We just came together. We’ve been in that position before and we came together when it really counted.”
Lee led Aspen with 19 points, while Shae Korpela was right behind with 18 points. Korpela scored 10 of his points in overtime, including six made free throws. His brother, Braden Korpela, also finished in double figures with 13 points.
Faith Christian’s Caleb Clark had another monster outing, scoring 30 points. He came in averaging more than 20 points per game.
“They did it. They kept fighting,” Schrempf said. “They are capable of hanging with anyone.”
Aspen (13-1 overall) next will play in the state quarterfinals on Monday — a game pushed back two days because of the anticipated winter storm this weekend — at No. 3 seed Sterling. The Tigers (14-1) were 51-34 winners over No. 14 Colorado Springs Christian on Thursday.
“I know when we go to Sterling it’s going to feel a little normal, because they are going to have a lot of people in that gym,” Schrempf said. “All credit goes to the boys. They wanted it and they believed in each other. They stuck together down the stretch. They didn’t give up.”
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