Aspen High girls b-ball sinks Paonia, Eagle Valley |

Aspen High girls b-ball sinks Paonia, Eagle Valley

Tim Mutrie

With a pair of wins, the Aspen High School girls basketball team emerged from the weekend as one of three undefeated teams in the 3A Western Slope League.

Aspen, 3-0 in league, 9-3 overall, dealt convincing losses to Paonia, 70-38, and Eagle Valley, 69-45, Friday and Saturday.

Senior co-captain Cory Reno drained three of her six 3-pointers in the first half against Paonia as Aspen jumped out to a 40-15 lead at the half. Aspen, last week’s No. 9 in Colorado 3A, shot 47 percent from the field and recorded four players who scored in double digits.

Reno led Aspen with 20 points, followed by sophomore center Lizzie Suiter, who scored 18 and pulled down 14 rebounds in another double-double effort. Forward Zara Podolak played her “best game of the season, taking charge for us,” Aspen coach Lance Finkbeiner said, scoring 12 and grabbing 7 boards. Junior Lacee Patterson scored 10 coming off the bench for the Skiers. Senior point guard Ellen Falender, the Colorado 3A assists leader with 10 a game, dished out 12 assists, made 7 steals and added 5 points.

“Once again, we saw real even scoring,” Finkbeiner said, “and it was a good overall effort. We came out especially strong, and I think we’re progressing a bit every game.”

Against Eagle Valley, Aspen experienced perhaps its first half of neck-and-neck basketball of the season. In the beginning of the third quarter, Aspen let its 28-22 halftime lead slip before running away in the fourth quarter to a 69-45 win.

“In the fourth we played the best basketball of the year so far,” coach Finkbeiner said. “Everybody was involved, we were hitting our shots – great defensive effort – and the thing that pleased me most was that we converted all our set plays.

“We’ve been involved in so many blowouts,” he continued, “it was nice to see how the girls responded in a close game. Maybe I didn’t like it so much at the time, but it’s a good experience for the team.”

Suiter led Aspen in scoring with 20 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Falender went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in a 17-point effort that also included three 3-pointers. Reno added 10 points. Nine of the 10 Aspen players who saw action scored, Finkbeiner said.

Aspen, Basalt and Roaring Fork in Carbondale remain the only undefeated squads in the 11-team league. Aspen travels to Hotchkiss Friday, then returns Saturday to host Cedaredge.

“We’re surprising a lot of teams because we’re much better than a lot of people anticipated. But I think we’re where we need to be,” Finkbeiner said. “We played better this weekend than we have all year.”

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