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Aspen High girls b-ball ends

Aspen Times Staff Report

The Aspen High School girls basketball team’s season came to a disappointing end Saturday with a 51-40 loss to Gunnison in the third-place game of the 3A Western Slope District Tournament in Grand Junction.

A day earlier, Aspen, seeded No. 3 in the district tournament, dropped a semifinal game to No. 2 Roaring Fork 60-38. The loss dropped Aspen into Saturday’s consolation game against No. 4 Gunnison – a team Aspen beat 51-44 in the final game of the regular season a week earlier – with the final available berth to the 3A regional tournament at stake.

With a balanced scoring attack, Gunnison led Aspen throughout the contest and took a 34-27 advantage into the final quarter.

“We cut it to four points in the fourth, but they made free throws down the stretch and we didn’t capitalize on the chances we had,” Aspen coach Lance Finkbeiner said.

Senior point guard Ellen Falender, the Class 3A assists leader with a 10 a game, led Aspen with 11 points, followed by sophomore center Lizzie Suiter with 10.

“Gunnison played phenomenal basketball,” Finkbeiner said. “Summer Frazier is their leading scorer, always, and we knew that. That’s how we beat them [last Saturday], by shutting her down. On Saturday we held her to eight points, but they had four other players with eight or more points. Their other players really stepped up.”

Aspen, last year’s 3A state tournament runner-up, 3A Western Slope League champ and district tournament champ, finished the 2000-2001 season 15-6.

“It’s disappointing,” Finkbeiner said, “because we feel that we deserved to get into the regional tournament. But like I told the girls, they far exceeded expectations with 15 wins this season. It’s all about peaking at the right time of year and playing your best basketball come tournament time, and it didn’t happen for us this year.”

On Friday, in Aspen’s semifinal game against Roaring Fork, the Rams’ Udall sisters, Tarn and Ren, combined for 44 points in the 60-38 win.

“For some reason, these teams have their best games against us,” Finkbeiner said of the weekend games. “Roaring Fork had a phenomenal game against us, and against Gunnison they played their best game of the season as far as I’m concerned.”

Roaring Fork jumped out to a 13-6 lead after the first quarter, “and we were just fighting to get back into it,” Finkbeiner said. “And the key is that they outrebounded us big-time.”

Suiter netted 17 points for Aspen, followed by Falender with 11.

Ren Udall knocked down 26 points for Roaring Fork, while younger sister Tarn added 17.

“We expected that from Ren, but we had no idea about [Tarn]. They played well; it was an emotional game for them.”

Roaring Fork advanced to Saturday’s final – thereby securing a berth to the regional tournament, which opens Saturday – and then lost 43-36 to Basalt, the 3A Western Slope League champs. (See related story 1-A.)

“We didn’t get the breaks this year,” Finkbeiner said, “but I’m very pleased with our season. Even last week, we were still ranked 10th in the state 3A division, and that’s with having just one player [Falender] back from last year. So for the rest of the girls to come out with very little varsity experience and do what they did, that’s pretty impressive.”

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Posted: Monday, February 26, 2001


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