Slow start knocks out AHS boys team |

Slow start knocks out AHS boys team

Tim Mutrie

The Aspen High School boys basketball team’s season came to an end Saturday with a 68-62 loss to Denver Christian in a Class 3A Regional Tournament contest in Denver.

Aspen, the Class 3A Western Slope League champions and No. 14 seed in the 16-team 3A Regional Tournament, faltered in the opening minutes of Saturday’s game against No. 3 Denver Christian. And the Skiers never managed to recover, Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said yesterday.

“The kids were prepared and ready to play,” he said, “but once the game started, you could see major tension on the team. They were spaced out.”

Aspen missed its first six field goal attempts and quickly fell behind 8-0, Ketchum said.

“Then we went down by 15 points and it looked like we were just going to get blown out,” he said.

Aspen managed to claw back to within 10 points and finished the first quarter in a 20-10 hole.

“We started pressing and started to click as a team,” the coach said. “We won the next three quarters, but we just couldn’t get out of that hole.”

Aspen cut Denver Christian’s lead to nine at the half, trailing 36-27, and then whittled the deficit to seven (51-44) entering the final quarter.

“At the half, it felt like we were down 30 because we had so many turnovers and missed shots,” Ketchum said. “But we felt like we were the better team and knew we still had a shot.

“We came out in the second half and played like the better team. It was just too little, too late.”

Aspen sophomore Nick Farrell and junior Jeff Brence knocked down 27 points and 21 points, respectively. They got the team back into contention with help from senior Duncan Delano, who sank two 3-pointers in the third quarter for 8 total points. Brence and Farrell also shot a combined 15-for-15 from the free-throw line.

Aspen drew to within one point of Denver Christian with less than two minutes to play in the final quarter, but a costly turnover on an inbounds pass spoiled Aspen’s chances to assume the lead.

“That was the ball game because then we had to foul and they hit their free throws,” Ketchum said.

“It was a great effort those last three quarters. Once again, it was the Farrell and Brence show offensively.”

Aspen finished the season 16-6 overall. Earlier this month, the Skiers became the first team in AHS boys basketball history to complete its Class 3A Western Slope League schedule undefeated, at 10-0. For Denver Christian, the win advanced the team into the 8-team 3A State Tournament.

“We’ve been to the regional tournament three years in a row now,” Ketchum said, “and it’s getting old. We want to get to state. The kids are really hungry for it.

“We’re not happy with just getting to regional anymore. We’re raising the bar. On a positive note, we’re a real young team and our top players [Farrell and Brence], two of the top players in the league, are coming back.

“I’m very proud of the team. Nobody picked us to do well this year and we went out and won the league. That’s something to be proud of,” he said.

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Posted: Monday, March 5, 2001

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