Shorthanded Aspen boys fall to Eagle Valley
December 3, 2011
ASPEN – The Aspen boys appeared poised to make a fourth-quarter run Friday night.
The Skiers forced three consecutive Eagle Valley turnovers to open the final frame and pulled to within three with about 5 minutes to play after a three-point play from senior transfer Austin Roark and James Powell’s jumper from beyond the arc.
The effort it exerted trying to climb back into contention – coupled with a lack of depth because of a string of recent injuries – cost Aspen in the waning minutes, however. The visiting Devils shook free for two easy lay-ups, then Samuel Lounsberry buried a 3 with 90 seconds remaining, helping Eagle Valley pull out a 55-46, season-opening victory.
“The kids were exhausted. They just kind of died down the stretch,” Skiers head coach Steve Ketchum said. “We tried to sub, but it was a little too late.”
Aspen was battling from behind from the outset Friday. It trailed Eagle Valley, one of the 4A Western Slope’s top teams, by four after one quarter and by two at the break. That deficit ballooned to as many as nine during a third quarter in which the Devils repeatedly struck from 3-point range and in transition.
Timothy Wells did the bulk of the damage, scoring 11 of his game-high 17 points in the third. He connected twice from deep then, after Roark hit two free throws to pull the Skiers to within five, the diminutive guard finished off the glass on a fast break. Soon after, he drove right through the middle of the Aspen defense, drew a foul and scored. He sank the free throw, giving Eagle Valley some breathing room at 45-36.
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Wells and Lounsberry, who finished with 15, combined to hit six 3-pointers.
“To their credit, they shot real well. We didn’t get out on them really well,” Ketchum said. “If a couple of those 3’s we take go down, it would’ve been a different game.”
The Skiers had an apparent 3 from Clayton Crawford negated because of a three-second violation with 3:45 remaining in the fourth. Had it counted, the shot would’ve pulled Aspen to within one.
Instead, the Devils marched right up court and fed the ball down low to Cooper Senn, who backed down his defender and scored. Soon after, Jeremy Sabo pulled down an offensive rebound and converted the put-back, stretching the lead to eight.
Lounsberry delivered the dagger soon after.
“That’s a real high-quality ball club,” Ketchum said. “They’re really athletic and really skilled, and we played right with them the entire game. … There were just a lot of bonehead mistakes from some guys who haven’t played much.”
Aspen was without a host of players, among them starters Jake Nugent (broken foot) and Quinn Morehead (violation of team rules). It’s relatively inexperienced squad displayed some first-game jitters, committing 20 turnovers.
Roark and Trent Lichtenwalter each finished with 12 points and Crawford added 11 for the Skiers, who will look to rebound at 5:30 p.m. today, when they host 2A Meeker.
“This is a learning experience,” Ketchum said. “When we’re healthy, in shape and everybody’s back, we’re going to be a heck of a lot better.”
• The Aspen hockey team surrendered three second-period goals to Air Academy in Friday’s season opener in Colorado Springs and could not recover, falling 4-0.
“It was just a couple defensive lapses that cost us,” Skiers head coach Al Butler said. “It was a pretty good effort for the first game of the year. … These non-
conference games early give us a feel for what we need to work on.”
Aspen, which struggled mightily on offense last season when it won just four of 19 games, had its chances Saturday, Butler said.
“We definitely have more potential [on offense]. Lots of those sophomores are a year older now, and we have a couple seniors playing with us, too. I think we should be fine,” Butler said. “I’m hoping we come out a little better tomorrow than we did today and keep growing.”
The Skiers visit Battle Mountain at 6:15 p.m. Saturday.
• Mike McGraw’s 27 points helped the Glenwood Springs boys to a 71-35 win over Basalt on the opening night of the Brenda Patch Tournament.
McGraw drained four 3-pointers as the Demons opened their season with a flourish.
Collin Porterfield added eight points for Glenwood, which got seven from Grant Fegan, six from Randy Burbidge and five apiece from Logan Holmberg, Chris Thomas and Kellin Casey.
“The boys played hard,” Demons coach Cory Hitchcock said. “I’m proud of them. We played great team basketball. That’s our motto this year.”
Sean Ryan led Basalt with eight points.
• Glenwood’s girls won by a similar margin in their opener, taking down the Longhorns by a 61-24 count.
Lexie Warkentin and Connor Adams paced the Demons with 10 points apiece. Kenzie Nelson-Buehler finished with eight.
Carina Capobianco’s 15 points led Basalt.
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