Boys basketball: Aspen opens at Roaring Fork tournament | AspenTimes.com

Boys basketball: Aspen opens at Roaring Fork tournament

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Aspen High School boys basketball team will open the new season in a familiar place against a familiar opponent.

The Skiers, under the leadership of second-year head coach Rolf Schildman, will tip off Friday afternoon at the annual Brenda Patch Tournament at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale.

The Aspen boys will face Rifle at 4:30 p.m. at the RFHS gym, just south of Carbondale on Highway133.

The Skiers will play again Saturday, taking on the Eagle Valley Devils in a 3:30 p.m. game in Carbondale.

"I really like where we're at," Schildman said of the Skiers, who return three experienced seniors this season. "We had some good scrimmages at Battle Mountain."

He said the Skiers are working hard with the defense showing early promise.

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"Our defense is looking pretty good," Schildman said. "Offensively, you don't really know until you get in a real game situation."

The weekend games will send the Class 3A Skiers against a pair of Class 4A teams in Rifle and Eagle Valley.

"They are a couple 4A teams," Schildman said. "Rifle, I remember, was a very well-coached team."

The Bears are coached by longtime high school coach Roger Walters, who formerly coached at Rifle and Roaring Fork. Walters also coached the women's team at Colorado Mesa University.

"They will be a good test," Schildman said.

"We're putting a lot of weight on Jack (Rosenthal's) shoulders," he said of the AHS senior guard. "He along with Will Hazen, who has been looking good."

Hazen, another AHS senior, is back from last year's team. In the fall, Hazen finished second in the State Golf Championships.

"And we'll have big Tristan (Niskanen) in the middle," Schildman said of Aspen's 6-6 senior center. He recently was honored as an all-conference football selection for the third consecutive season.

"Those three seniors … and we've got some juniors coming along," he said. "Zack George is looking good in practice along with Quinton O'Keeffe. AJ Detrick is shooting the ball well right now. They're all juniors."

He said the team is working hard and showing progress.

"There's some good chemistry … we're making good decisions out there," he said, adding that the Aspen defense will have to play solid defense — including pressure in the frontcourt and the backcourt.

"We are going to have to put pressure on people … make people adjust to us," Schildman said. "Some nights the 3 is not falling. But there are no off nights on defense … that's 99 percent effort."

The Aspen boys will play their first home game Thursday, Dec. 10. Hotchkiss will visit for a nonleague matchup.

The boys varsity game (7:30 p.m.) will follow the girls varsity contest (6 p.m.).

The Skiers will hit the road to Rifle for games on Friday, Dec. 11.

Other games before the holiday break include a Dec. 18 trip to Vail Christian.

Aspen will host Roaring Fork to open the Western Slope League season on Jan. 8.

The Aspen boys will host Grand Valley on Jan. 16 and Coal Ridge on Jan. 22 in two key conference home games.

Aspen will play at defending league champion Moffat County in Craig on Jan. 29, another key league game. Moffat County will make the return trip to Aspen on Feb. 20, a Saturday.

The annual rivalry series against the Basalt Longhorns will open with the Skiers playing at Basalt on Saturday, Jan. 23.

The Longhorns will visit Aspen on Friday, Feb. 19.

That means the Aspen boys basketball team will close the regular season with back-to-back home games against Basalt and Moffat County.

dstrode@aspentimes.com