Middle school, high school basketball storms into Aspen
Hoops hysteria will be taking Aspen by storm this week as the Aspen Middle School eighth-grade boys basketball team opens the PEG League tournament at home tonight.
And then, on Friday night, Dec. 3, the high school basketball season officially kicks off with both the girls and boys teams taking to the hardwood for the annual Aspen Skierdome Classic.
Both high school teams got a good look at where they stand going into the 1999-2000 campaign by playing in preseason scrimmages on Saturday. The boys traveled to Grand Junction for four games against 4A and 5A schools, and the girls played a trio of games in Glenwood Springs.
“We did well,” said second-year boys coach Steve Ketchum. “It was a good start for us.”
Playing a grueling schedule of four full games in one day with merely a one and a half-hour break in the middle, the Skiers stayed competitive with the larger schools.
Officially, no score was kept, as Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) rules dictate that the first games cannot be played until Dec. 1, but Ketchum said that the Skiers won their first game over Delta and then narrowly lost to Rifle in the second game.
“And we were real competitive in the other two games,” said Ketchum, despite the fact that Aspen made the trip to Grand Junction with a roster of only eight varsity players.
The Aspen girls team, under the guidance of first-year head coach Lance Finkbeiner, played three games Saturday in Glenwood Springs and unofficially won them all.
“It gave us a good idea of where we’re at,” said Finkbeiner, who coached the boys JV team at AHS last season. “I feel that we’ll have a really strong season.”
The talented AHS girls’ squad tested Summit, Glenwood Springs and Basalt in the preseason scrimmages.
Aspen Skierdome Classic
Next up for both high school teams will be the Aspen Skierdome Classic, a traditional tournament to kick off the season.
Action will get under way Friday night, Dec. 3, at Aspen High School with a 6:30 p.m. contest between the Lady Skiers and Middle Park High School. The boys will follow that contest at 8 p.m. when they also play the Panthers of Middle Park.
The tournament will continue on Saturday, Dec. 4, with the girls tangling with Colorado Springs Christian at 4 p.m. and the boys taking on Glenwood Springs at 5:30 p.m.
Ketchum and the boys team will be looking to defend the title the team won at last year’s Skierdome Classic, when they rolled to easy wins over Middle Park (70-52) and Soroco (75-39), a 2A school out of Routt County. Soroco will also be playing in this year’s event but will not play against Aspen.
The girls will be hoping to improve on last year’s tournament, which saw the team post a 1-1 mark.
In their opening game last year, the Aspen girls won big over Middle Park, 67-46, only to drop an agonizing 38-33 loss to Soroco the next day.
PEG League Tournament
While high school basketball is just getting under way, middle school hoops is about to wrap up the season. Play opens today in the PEG (Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield) League Tournament, with No. 2 seed Aspen hosting Riverside at the middle school gym at 5 p.m.
Aspen Middle School, 6-1 on the season, narrowly missed out on an undefeated season when the Skiers dropped a 26-20 decision to league-champion Rifle last week.
In other opening-round action, No. 1 seed Rifle will take on winless Basalt, Glenwood Springs will host Carbondale, and St. John’s will play at Eagle.
Should Aspen advance past Riverside, the Skiers will play the winner of the St. John’s-Eagle matchup in the second round on Thursday night.
The Thursday semifinals and Saturday championship games of the PEG Tournament are planned for Carbondale Middle School.
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