Skiers keep piling up basketball wins
If Aspen High School girls basketball coach Lance Finkbeiner had any questions about his team’s defense, those questions were answered last Friday in emphatic fashion.
Playing before a raucous home crowd at the Aspen Skierdome, the Skiers held Hotchkiss scoreless for the first 10 minutes and 20 seconds of the game and led 32-0 after just one quarter of play on their way to a dominating 67-20 victory.
“That was a pretty big first quarter for us,” said Finkbeiner. “Hotchkiss was tied with Basalt at halftime (Thursday night in Hotchkiss), so I was pleased with that. Our game plan was to play some good D, and we did what we needed to do.”
Senior forward Jill Evans led the way for the Skiers in the quarter, scoring 12 points. She would finish the game with 14, including two 3-point shots, to continue her standout play of late.
Center Rebecca Anderson had a strong game in the pivot for Aspen, scoring a team-high 15 points and pulling down nine offensive rebounds. Marta Losonczy had 10 points and seven rebounds, Ellen Falender had eight steals, six assists and five rebounds, and Kelli Dangler had five points and eight rebounds for the Skiers.
The big lead, which Aspen extended to 43-6 by halftime, gave Finkbeiner the opportunity to give his subs a lot of playing time, and they responded with strong efforts. Jennifer Snook hit all three of her shots on the way to six points and three assists. Cory Reno had five points and three steals. Kelly Waldron scored four points, as did Lacee Patterson. And freshman Lizzie Suiter had two points and three rebounds.
“That was a good game for us,” said Finkbeiner. “We got the younger girls in there with the starters, so it was a good experience for them. And I was really pleased with how the sophomores played.”
The very next night at Cedaredge, the Aspen girls pushed their record to 11-1 (5-0 in league) and ran their current winning streak to eight games with a 59-27 win at Cedaredge.
Once again Evans did most of the damage, scoring 18 points, including 7-of-7 free throws, to pace the Skiers’ offense. She also had eight rebounds, four steals and three assists in a strong all-around game.
Dangler scored 14 for Aspen to go along with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Anderson had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Losonczy had eight points, nine rebounds and seven steals.
And Falender came up lucky sevens with seven points, seven steals and seven assists.
Coming up for the Skiers will be a home game against Battle Mountain at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, before a road contest at Meeker at 4 p.m. the next day.
Aspen boys win two, barely
It wasn’t an easy weekend for the Aspen boys basketball team and coach Steve Ketchum, but they would be hard-pressed to complain about the final results. The Skiers went 2-0, with a 64-57 home win over Hotchkiss in Friday night’s game and then a last-second 56-55 overtime win on the road at Cedaredge.
Despite a considerable size advantage over the visiting Bulldogs, the Skiers fell behind early and trailed Hotchkiss 20-12 after the first quarter. At halftime, the lead was still eight, 36-28, before the Skiers found their stride in the third quarter, outscoring Hotchkiss 25-11 en route to the eventual seven-point win.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to get off to a good start,” said Ketchum following the game. “Maybe I should use my halftime speech before the game.”
Aspen co-captain Robert Tomaszek had 10 points in the deciding third quarter on his way to a team-high 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the game. Freshman Nick Farrell also had five assists to go along with his 16 points, five rebounds and six steals.
Sophomore Jeff Brence scored 15 points, and senior co-captain Corey Robinson contributed nine points, five assists, four steals and six rebounds.
“I’m proud of our kids for tightening up the defense,” said Ketchum. “That’s what won the game for us. You’ve got to give Hotchkiss credit. They shot the lights out in the first half.
“I’m really proud of Nick,” he added. “He stepped up for a freshman. And the bench contributed. That was a real positive for us. Kyle Taylor and Talbott Walker both played very well.”
Saturday’s game at Cedaredge was even more of a nip-and-tuck affair. Aspen led most of the way before falling behind late in the game and then rallying to send the game into overtime.
In OT, both Tomaszek and Farrell fouled out, leaving Aspen without two of its best players. But the Skiers hung in there, and as the extra frame wound down, they found themselves once again tied with Cedaredge.
Aspen set up for the final shot, but Taylor was called for a moving screen. Cedaredge hit both ends of a one-and-one to go up two with six seconds remaining. Aspen inbounded the ball to Duncan Delano, who has been fighting a shooting slump of late, and he dribbled the length of the floor and drained one of his two overtime 3-pointers with two men in his face to lift the Skiers to the win.
“We didn’t play well,” said Ketchum. “But the guys found a way to win.”
Robinson paced the Skiers in the game with 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Tomaszek had 12 points and eight rebounds before fouling out, and Delano had six assists and eight points, including the two big 3-pointers in OT.
Brence contributed nine points, and Farrell had six points and five assists.
With the wins, Aspen improved its season mark to 10-3 overall and 4-1 in league.
The Skiers will be in action again Friday night at 8 p.m. at home against Battle Mountain.
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Max Weintraub has been senior curator at the Aspen Art Museum since January 2019.