Aspen boys hoops sinks Cedaredge
Aspen Times Sportswriter
The Aspen High School boys basketball team now stands alone atop the Class 3A Western Slope League standings.
Aspen improved its league record to 5-0 Saturday night (10-4 overall) by knocking off Cedaredge (4-1, 11-3), previously the only other unbeaten team in league play.
Aspen sprang out to an early 9-2 lead in the opening minutes of the contest but trailed 13-15 at the end of the first quarter. At the half, Aspen turned the tables slightly, taking a 30-29 lead into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Aspen came alive, led by sophomore point guard Nick Farrell, who sank three straight field goals and staked Aspen to a 47-36 lead after the third quarter.
“Then we played great down the stretch, hit our free throws and tightened up our defense,” said Aspen coach Steve Ketchum.
Throughout the quarter, Aspen protected its 13-point lead and won 60-47.
Junior Jeff Brence led AHS in scoring with 20 points, followed by Farrell with 18 points. Senior guard Duncan Delano sank 4-of-4 free throws in the fourth quarter and finished with 10 points. Center Blake Beyea pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds, blocked 6 shots and added 5 points. Forward Jared Kidd contributed 8 points.
“This was supposed to be a rebuilding year,” coach Ketchum said, “but we’re surprising a lot of people. Now, we’re the only undefeated team in the league. I don’t have any explanation about why we’re playing so well; the kids are just picking it up.”
On Friday, Aspen sank league opponent Hotchkiss (3-3, 8-6) by a score of 68-51.
Aspen led Hotchkiss 35-27 at the half and then turned it on in the second half.
“Once again, in the second half the kids just turned it up a huge notch,” Ketchum said, “against what I consider the best starting five in our league.
“The kids played great both offensively and defensively,” he continued. “And it wasn’t like one guy was carrying us. We had five guys almost in double figures” in scoring.
Brence led Aspen in scoring with 20 points, followed by Farrell with 15 points and 11 assists. Delano added 9 points, and Kidd and sophomore Phil Salazar each netted 8 points.
“We’re not supposed to be winning but we are anyway,” Ketchum said. “The kids are surprising me, and I’m feeling like this will be a magical season, despite being young and inexperienced.”
Aspen plays Meeker next, at home on Saturday. Meeker, 0-4, 1-10 prior to this weekend’s play, is “capable of beating anybody,” Ketchum said.
“They’re always in the game, and they can knock anybody off, including us, so we’re not taking them lightly,” he continued. “The league championship is ours for the taking, and we’re in charge of our own destiny. We need to take care of business one game at a time.”
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