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Skiers welcome Olathe, Gunnison

Ben Husband

Olathe’s coming to Aspen and looking for revenge.

The Pirates will be out to avenge three major upsets from a year ago, compliments of the Aspen High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. And it all begins tonight as the Pirates take on the Skiers at the Skierdome to kick off Western Slope Conference play.

The girls game is scheduled for 6 p.m., with the boys immediately following.

The string of upsets started last year when the AHS girls became the first girls’ team in seven years to defeat the Pirates on their home court in Olathe.

“They are going to come ready to play,” AHS girls coach Brent Waldron said.

Later that night last year, the AHS boys kept the upset streak going as they handed the Pirates a 56-55 overtime loss.

The Skiers manhandled Olathe’s defense from the perimeter, but it was guard Lucas Farrell who did the most damage.

Farrell gave a lesson in shooting as he lit up Olathe for a career high 28 points, including five 3-pointers.

Later last season in the girls Class 3A District title game, Aspen and Olathe faced each other again. And again, Aspen pulled off another upset, but this time the Skiers beat Olathe by 20 points.

This year, both the AHS boys’ and girls’ teams compiled strong preseason records.

The girls have shot out to an impressive 5-1 nonconference record, sharing top honors with teams like Battle Mountain and Rangely. Olathe sits at 4-2. The AHS boys enter WSC play with a 5-2 record, losing to Basalt and Denver’s Bellview Christian. The Olathe boys are 4-2.

“We’re excited to see how we do,” said AHS boys coach Steve Ketchum. “I know that they [Pirates] are big and I also know that they will be ready to play, so we have to do the same.”

Saturday, the Skiers will host Gunnison. The girls kick off action at 2 p.m., with the boys following at 4 p.m. BHS Boys The quest to get to the one tournament that has eluded the Basalt High School boys’ basketball team since 1989 begins again this weekend.

And for four seniors at Basalt High School, it will be the last hurrah.

For Rodney Crawford, Sean Koutsakis, Forrest Woolery and John Stahlman, this is it – one more crack atgetting to the Class 3A State High School Basketball Tournament.

In each of the past two seasons, the Longhorns captured both the WSC and District titles to advance to Regionals.

In 1997, the Longhorns traveled to Centauri and were crushed to end their season. Last year Basalt hosted Denver Christian at the Big House for the glory of advancing to state.

But just as the year before, Basalt’s hopes of making it to the State Tournament vanished as Denver Christian handed BHS a 72-48 loss.

This year, BHS again is focused on the State Tournament and the journey begins tonight when the the fourth-ranked Longhorns travel to Gypsum to play fifth-ranked Eagle Valley.

Last year, the Longhorns defeated the Devils once during the regular season and again in the district title game.

The two teams will showcase two of the best post players in the WSC in Basalt’s Forrest Woolery and Eagle Valley’s Jim Bair.

Woolery is leading the Longhorns in scoring with just under 15 points a game, while Bair is doing the same for the Devils. In Bair’s first game of the season, he scored 30 points and pulled down 11 rebounds against No. 1-ranked Buena Vista.

Eagle Valley advanced to the State Tournament last year in 3A. Lady Longhorns Second-year coach Debbie Cain and her young BHS team will kick off league play at Eagle Valley as well.

The 1-4 Longhorns are in the midst of a rebuilding year and, according to Cain, are coming off a “pretty tough preseason.”

The Longhorns’ lone win came against Ridgway in the Clay Belk Memorial Tournament at the Big House in mid-December.

“Right now, “Cain said. ‘We’re just trying to regroup and prepare ourselves for league.

“It’s tough when you have such a young team,” she continued. “I hope that the preseason did help prepare is for the league. I’m kind of curious and very excited to see how we will do.”

But the Horns will have to move forward without one of their key players.

Brooke Kitchen suffered torn ligaments in her knee against Aspen in the Clay Belk tourney and will miss the rest of the season.

“That is a huge loss for us,” Cain said. “She was really starting to step things up for us.

“She’s going to be hard to replace,” Cain added.


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