Aspen boys b-ball split in openers
December 9, 2002
After a thrilling overtime victory against Kremmling’s West Grand Friday night, the Aspen High boys basketball team stumbled badly vs. the state-ranked Kent Denver Saturday.
Opening the 2002-03 campaign with a two-game home stand at the new AHS gym, Aspen put Class 2A West Grand away, 89-79, with a 17-point effort in the four-minute overtime. But that hot streak didn’t carry over to Saturday against a fellow 3A opponent.
“It was a like a total team effort in futility,” said coach Steve Ketchum. “Just a poor effort on both ends of the court for us.
“The only comforting thing is that it’s early ? we easily could be 0-2 right now.”
In Friday’s opener, Aspen and West Grand, a top-ranked team in Class 2A that Ketchum predicts will deliver the state title, traded runs until Aspen managed to build a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
“But in the span of a few minutes, that lead evaporated to nothing,” Ketchum said. “We had a few turnovers, some rushed shots and that was disheartening, but our kids hung in there.”
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Aspen had a chance to ice the game in the final 30 seconds of regulation, but the Skiers twice missed on the front end of one-and-one foul shots. Both games, in fact, Aspen shot 50 percent from the foul line, a “horrendous stat that needs to be corrected,” Ketchum said.
West Grand wound up with the ball at midcourt tied at 71 with nine seconds left, but Aspen’s man-to-man defense combined to deny the game-winning shot from even being launched. “To our kids’ credit, they played extremely hard, super-tough defense,” Ketchum said.
In the overtime period, senior Josh Lackey ignited the Aspen attack by scoring 7 points of the team’s 17, compared to West Grand’s 8. Lackey finished with 15, while senior Phil Salazar led with 20 points, including 16 in the second half after momentarily blacking out in an awkward fall early in the first half. “It was a great effort from Phil,” Ketchum noted.
Senior guard Nick Farrell contributed 19 points.
In Saturday’s game, Aspen lagged behind from the opening tipoff and trailed 45-27 by the fourth quarter. “That’s when our kids decide to work hard, pull out the victory ? yeah, right,” Ketchum said. “It was ridiculous. It looked like a bunch of kids who have spent too much time on the couch watching Allen Iverson ? fancy finger-rolls, double-clutching and all this high-flying trying ? like, ‘I’ll pull us through this.'”
Aspen managed to cut the deficit to 12 points, but Kent Denver, which topped Basalt Friday night, kept them out of reach. Farrell Aspen again with 12 points while Lackey had 8.
On Thursday, Aspen travels to the 8-team Steamboat tournament. Aspen will play three games through Saturday, opening against Cheyenne Central, a Class 5A level team from Wyoming.
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