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Aspen boys beat rivals Basalt, Roaring Fork

Todd Hartley

Three of the top four teams in the boys 3A Western Slope League basketball standings were in action at the Aspen Skierdome over the weekend, but it was the one that wasn’t that may have made the biggest statement.

The Aspen Skiers picked up wins over valley rivals Roaring Fork and Basalt over the weekend but may still find themselves holding the short end of the stick as the WSL season winds down.

Eagle Valley, which leads the league with a 9-1 mark (15-3 overall), upended the Roaring Fork Rams Thursday in a battle for first place in the WSL by converting a disputed foul shot with just seconds to play to win 60-59.

That loss dropped the Rams to 7-2 in league games and stole some of the thunder from Friday’s tilt with Aspen, which, at 6-1, was just a half-game back in the standings. Still smarting from the defeat at the hands of Eagle Valley, Roaring Fork played a lackluster game and fell 52-36 to the Skiers.

Aspen picked up another win on Saturday, 65-47 over Basalt, to run its record to 8-1 in the WSL (14-3 overall), but will need help to overtake Eagle Valley in the league standings. The Devils own the tie-breaker over the Skiers by virtue of a 61-52 win over Aspen in January.

Roaring Fork, now 11-7 overall (7-3 in league), led the Skiers 8-7 early on in the first quarter of Friday’s game but seemed to run out of gas shortly thereafter. Aspen went on a 9-4 run to finish the period and never looked back. Defensive stand The Rams matched the Skiers with 10 points in the second quarter, but a brilliant defensive effort by Aspen in the third held Roaring Fork to two points and pushed the Skiers’ advantage to 37-23 going into the final period. Aspen went on to win by 16.

“Roaring Fork didn’t play that well,” said Aspen coach Steve Ketchum.

“I think [the loss to Eagle Valley] got them. But our kids played really outstanding defense all game. This was the first contest with a crowd of this magnitude, and they held their nervous tension in really well.”

Eight different players scored for Aspen, led by Robert Tomaszek, who paced the offense with 19 points. Jeff Brence scored 10, and Nick Farrell and Corey Robinson eached chipped in with eight points. Top scorers The Rams got 10 points from leading scorer Trenton Cheney, who was held in check most of the game by the defense of Robinson. Jacob Walker and Kris Fahrenkrug scored seven apiece for Roaring Fork, and Greg Williams added six.

Basalt was also coming off a disappointing loss in the game before its matchup with Aspen. The Longhorns fell to Cedaredge Friday night in a 75-73 nailbiter despite 20 points each from Michael Palmer and Jack Lutzeier.

With that loss hanging over their heads, the Longhorns came out a little flat Saturday evening and fell behind 11-5 early on. Basalt recovered to trail by just 14-10 at the end of the first quarter, but Aspen took a 30-17 lead by halftime behind six second-quarter points apiece from Farrell and Brence.

The lead would grow to 16 by the end of the third quarter, 46-30, before a mini run by the Longhorns got them to within nine points, 51-42, with just under five minutes to play.

But then Aspen scored the next 10 points to seal the victory.

“That was a huge win,” said Ketchum. “That’s our first win over Basalt in six years. It was another great night on defense for us. We had a lot of balance. That’s what we need.”

Tomaszek once again led the way for the Skiers with 21 points. Farrell scored 15, Brence had 13 and Robinson finished with nine. Home-season finale It was the final regular-season home game for Aspen seniors Tomaszek, Robinson and reserve players Kyle Taylor and Talbott Walker, whom Ketchum rewarded for their hard work all year by putting them in the starting lineup.

Basalt, which fell to 10-7 overall (6-4 in league), was paced by Palmer, who scored 15 points before fouling out early in the third quarter.

Lutzeier finished with eight points, and Edwin Piper scored seven.

The Skiers will look to keep the ball rolling on Friday when they play at Olathe. Following that, Aspen will play at Gunnison on Saturday.

If the Skiers can win both games, there is still a chance they can win the league title with a little help from Basalt, which hosts Eagle Valley Friday night at 8 p.m. A win by Basalt and two wins by the Skiers would combine to give Aspen the WSL regular-season championship.


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