Aspen boys hoops airs it out Friday |

Aspen boys hoops airs it out Friday

Tim Mutrie

“More highlights,” said Jeff Brence.

“More running,” added Nick Farrell.

“Way more fast breaks than last year,” Duncan Delano concluded.

That’s what the three captains of the Aspen High School boys varsity basketball team predicted for the 2000-2001 season after practice Wednesday afternoon.

And while the team intends to take it one game at a time this winter – beginning with their season opener at Paonia Friday night – their goal is “winning state,” according to Brence, a junior forward.

“At least we want to be going,” he hedged.

Last year, under then second-year coach Steve Ketchum, the Aspen team posted a 17-6 record and clinched a share of the Class 3A Western Slope League title. But as for the state tourney, the Skiers were knocked out of a qualifying berth when an opponent’s final-second shot fell in the regional tournament.

Returning starters Delano, Brence and Farrell aim to correct that this year.

Delano, a senior who played sweeper for the runner-up state champion Aspen soccer team, is one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, Ketchum said.

“And there’s no question – Nick Farrell and Jeff Brence are capable of doing some damage,” he added.

Farrell, a sophomore guard who started as a back on the Aspen soccer team, was named honorable mention all-state as a freshman last year. Brence, another standout from the Aspen soccer team, earned all-conference honors last season, Ketchum said.

“Both Nick and Jeff went to high-potential [basketball] camps over the summer and really got better,” he added. “And they’ll be supported by a solid supporting cast.”

For starters, five players on the Aspen team can dunk, including the 6-foot, 8-inch Blake Beyea, a 16-year-old senior. Senior Jared Kidd – “he’s got some major hops,” coach Ketchum said – should also be a force in the Skier frontcourt. And sophomore Phil Salazar, a forward, “is really pushing for a starting job,” Ketchum said.

“We’ve got a nice balance of big and small,” Ketchum continued. “I’m confident – the key for us will be staying healthy.”

Aspen plays its first seven games on the road, beginning with Paonia Friday, and opens at home in early January.

“Up until Christmastime, we’re going to try and iron some things out,” Ketchum said, “so when we get into our league schedule in January, we’ll be ready.”

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