Aspen girls start strong, rout Eagle Valley | AspenTimes.com

Aspen girls start strong, rout Eagle Valley

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado

Jim Paussa/The Aspen Times

ASPEN If Aspen’s fourth-ranked boys basketball team ever needs an extra point guard, coach Steve Ketchum should consider Julia Hassall.The nimble senior was in a league of her own Friday night at home in the Skiers girls’ season opener against 4A Eagle Valley, turning in an impressive final line for a 32-minute game.

Hassall drained four 3-pointers in a 19-point first half and finished the game with 28 points, five rebounds and six steals. That Eagle Valley scored only 11 points combined in the first half told much of the story in this one.Employing a 1-3-1 full-court press to force 17 turnovers, Aspen rolled to a 41-19 advantage after three quarters before second-year coach Jeremy Haack pulled back the reins. The Skiers ended up winning 46-29 – a rout that atoned for a one-point loss to the Devils in the second game last season. Last year’s loss was at the very beginning of a deflating 1-14 start for Aspen. This year, Haack, Hassall and the Skiers are optimistic that things are going to be much different.”Getting this first win was huge,” Haack said. “I told the girls 1,000 times, ‘We have a really good team here and we’re going to surprise some people.’ I think they’re believing in what we’re doing, they’re believing in each other, and you saw great team basketball tonight. They left it out there. Every single one of them’s got a great heart.”Hassall, who played nearly the whole game, has a well-conditioned one of those – and an elegant outside shot. So, too, does her senior partner on the perimeter Grace Seigle, who finished with four 3-pointers of her own for 12 points. The Skiers didn’t have much of an inside presence against the bigger Devils, but it didn’t seem to matter with the way Hassall and Seigle were shooting and how the rest of the Skiers were playing defense.

Eagle Valley’s Jeanette Baker scored the opening basket, then the Skiers didn’t allow another before reeling off 19 straight points of their own in the first quarter. The final three of those came when Seigle banked in a 3-pointer from four feet behind the line that beat the first-quarter buzzer.”It’s just an adrenaline rush every time you make it,” Seigle said. “You just want to make more.” “Especially when you make it and the crowd’s going crazy,” added Hassall.While Hassall and Seigle provided the offense, Aspen’s staunch defense was a complete team effort. Junior Kylie Westerlind had five steals and Seigle and sophomore Lindsey Anderson each had a pair. Westerlind also pulled down three rebounds and senior center Kerri Kimmel had four.”That’s one of the things we wanted to do was let the defense create offense,” Haack said. “I thought we did a great job of that tonight. … The girls were active, playing great defense, talking to each other. It was just a great team effort.”

Hassall put it in simpler terms.”Our press killed them,” she said. “We’ve been working on our defense a lot, which I think paid off,” Seigle added. “We haven’t been doing as much offense as defense, and it definitely worked tonight.”The Skiers will look to go to 2-0 Saturday when they host 2A Grand Valley at 4 p.m. Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com