Boys’ race to league championship a tight one
This year’s Western Slope Conference boys basketball champs could be crowned Thursday.
League-leader Eagle Valley (9-1) travels to Carbondale Thursday to face second-place Roaring Fork (8-1).
Boys’ tip off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. or immediately following the girls varsity game that begins at 7 p.m. at Roaring Fork High School.
If the Devils defeat Roaring Fork, they will win the league title.
Because Eagle Valley has already defeated Aspen (8-1), Olathe (7-2) and Basalt (6-3), who round out the next three slots in the WSC standings, the Devils carry the head-to-head advantage if the Devils and another team finish the regular season tied for first place.
That would happen only if Aspen defeats both Roaring Fork Friday in Carbondale (8:30 p.m.) and Basalt Saturday at the Big House (5:30 p.m.), leaving the Skiers possible tied for first with EV at 10-1, thus Eagle Valley would win.
If Roaring Fork defeats Eagle Valley Thursday, the Rams would take over first place at 9-1, dropping the Devils to 9-2 in the WSC, with one game left – Aspen on Friday.
The Rams would win the league title if they beat Aspen putting them at 10-1. If Aspen defeats Roaring Fork, the Skiers would take over first place in the league at 9-1 with one game left against Basalt, dropping the Rams to 9-2 with Eagle Valley.
Then Aspen would need to top the Longhorns in order to win the league title. If Basalt tops Aspen in this scenario, Aspen, Eagle Valley and Roaring Fork would be tied at 9-2.
If Eagle Valley wins the league outright at 10-1, the Devils would get an automatic berth in the Class 3A Regionals.
But the automatic Regional berth goes only to an outright league champion – a team with the single best league record.
If the league ends in any form of a tie, then all three Regional qualifiers would be determined at the upcoming District Tournament.
The top four finishers in the league standings will host the first round of the Class 3A District Tournament, beginning Thursday, Feb. 18.
The bottom eight teams will face each other in pigtail games with the higher seed hosting on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
The winners of the pigtail games will then advance to face the top four seeds in the Feb. 18 opening round of the District Tournament.
The District Tournament will continue with semifinals on Friday, Feb. 19, at Grand Junction Central. Third-place and championship games will be Saturday, Feb. 20. Aspen’s hopes This is a crucial weekend of play for the Aspen Skiers because so much is riding on how they finish.
The Skiers could win the league title outright with two wins and a Roaring Fork win over Eagle Valley, which would mean an automatic bid into the Regional Tournament.
“We are in control of our own destiny right now,” AHS first-year coach Steve Ketchum said.
Last year, the Skiers were in a must-win situation in order to finish among the top four teams, but dropped their last two games to Roaring Fork and Basalt, forcing them into the pigtail game.
They crushed Hotchkiss in the pigtail game, but then were defeated by Basalt at the Big House – a situation Ketchum would like to avoid.
“Our goal now is to win our next two games,” he said.
“But we know that they are going to be our toughest of the season,” he continued. ” This is where we need to play our best ball.”
Aspen, however, could end up playing in Tuesday’s pigtail games with two losses and two Basalt wins. Basalt boys fight The two-time defending WSC and District champion Longhorns, recovering from a painful loss at home to Roaring Fork last Saturday, are hoping to be among the top four teams come Monday.
Heading into the final weekend, BHS (6-3) is in fifth place behind Olathe (7-2), a team that beat the Longhorns in overtime earlier this year.
In order to avoid playing in the pigtail, Basalt would need to win against Cedaredge at the Big House Friday (6:30 p.m.) and against Aspen Saturday.
“We are in unfamiliar territory right now,” BHS coach Bill Crowley said. “We have put ourselves in a position to play an extra game, and this time of the year, you have to be playing your best ball.”
Basalt would need some help from Olathe’s Pirates, who will play Hotchkiss (Friday) and Meeker (Saturday). If the Pirates lose one or both games, it could play to the Longhorn’s favor.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.