Aspen boys b-ball nips Paonia, Eagle
The Aspen High boys basketball team knocked off a pair of Class 3A Western Slope League powers this weekend to remain undefeated in league play.
On Friday, Aspen destroyed Paonia – a school that beat Aspen by two points Dec. 1 and held a Class 3A top-10 state ranking last week – by 40 points and then dispatched regional rival Eagle Valley by 10 points on Saturday.
Aspen (3-0 in league, 8-4 overall) staked a 51-22 lead over Paonia at the half en route to a 92-52 win.
“I was in disbelief,” Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said. “Many people said it was the best game they’ve ever seen an Aspen High boys team play, and I have to agree it was pretty awesome; tremendously balanced scoring, and even more phenomenal was the defensive effort,” the coach continued.
Junior swingman Jeff Brence led ten Aspen scorers with 32 points. Sophomore point guard Nick Farrell recorded a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. Jared Kidd, a forward who returned to the lineup after a month’s absence due to illness, scored 16 points in his comeback. Duncan Delano netted 8 points and Blake Beyea added 6.
“The guys did an unbelievable job,” coach Ketchum said. “The kids were on fire, the press was working and we were running and gunning and having a great time.”
On Saturday against Eagle Valley, a team Aspen hasn’t beaten in the regular season in three years, Aspen rallied to break a halftime stalemate and win 58-48.
“Once again, we had a great defensive effort,” Ketchum said, “and we played really well to close out the game.”
Senior tri-captain Duncan Delano stepped up when point guard Nick Farrell fouled out in the third quarter, “running the show down the stretch” and finishing with 16 points, Ketchum said. Brence led Aspen in scoring with 18 points.
Aspen plays league powers Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Aspen travels to Hotchkiss and then returns home Saturday to host Cedaredge.
“We’re in the driver’s seat in control of our own destiny,” Ketchum said. “Against Cedaredge, it’ll be an absolute death match.”
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.