Demons end Skiers’ title bid
COLORADO SPRINGS – The Aspen High School boys basketball team’s hopes for a state title ended Thursday with a 65-61 loss to Buena Vista in the first round of the Class 3A High School Basketball State Championship.
In front of a large crowd in the 15,000-seat Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Aspen gave the top-ranked Demons a battle from beginning to end, but couldn’t stop Buena Vista’s scoring duo of brothers Drew and Brian Wood.
Senior Drew Wood, who averaged just under 24 points a game during the regular season, finished with a game high 24.
Sophomore Brian Wood, who averaged just under 24 points per contest during the regular season, finished with 21 points, including four in the game’s final minute to help the Demons hold on for the win.
“We got beat by the better team tonight,” Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said. “We made too many mental mistakes, and in a game like this, you can’t make those types of mistakes and hope to win.”
After falling behind 9-4 early in the first period, Aspen got back into the game with two straight buckets from senior post player Andrew Smith and a pair of free throws from center Stefan Koenes to take a 10-9 lead.
After Koenes’ free throws, senior Ryan Kerr stole the inbound pass and scored an easy layup to give Aspen a 12-9 lead.
The Demons then ripped off nine straight points – five from Brian Wood and four from Drew – to regain the lead at 18-12.
Koenes scored a inside jumper to cut Buena Vista’s lead to four, 18-14, heading into the second period.
In the second period, both teams heated up, scoring 14 points each, and the Demons went into the locker rooms with a slim 32-28 lead.
In the third period, Buena Vista went up by as many as nine and went into the final period of play with a 45-38 lead.
Then, both teams exploded on offense, each scoring 20-plus points – Buena Vista 20, Aspen 23 – in a thrilling finish to a great game.
The Demons took a 57-49 lead with just under four minutes to play. Then Aspen went on a 7-2 run, including a long 3-pointer from senior sharpshooter Lucas Farrell, to cut the lead to just three (59-56) with a minute remaining.
But after a Buena Vista time out, the Demon duo of Wood and Wood scored the game’s next six points from the free-throw line. The Demons held the Skiers to just five points to close the game at 65-61.
“I’m pleased with our effort,” Ketchum said. “We just missed too many opportunities, and had too many mistakes. In huge game like this, you need to take advantage of your opportunities and play nearly mistake free, and we didn’t do that.”
Koenes led Aspen with 19 points; Smith added 16 while Kerr scored nine.
The eighth-seeded Skiers (17-7) will now play No. 7 seed Burlington (17-7) today at 10:15 a.m. for the first round of the consolation bracket.
Burlington, which upset Basalt in the 3A Regionals, fell to second-seed Faith Christian yesterday.
Buena Vista (24-0), 3A’s top-ranked team all season long, will advance to play Faith Christian (21-3) at 8:30 p.m. tonight.
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