4A teams to test Aspen boys basketball team

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Aspen Skiers are ready to play — ready to play against someone else.

The Aspen High School boys basketball team will get that chance this weekend when the Skiers open the new season at the annual Brenda Patch Memorial Tournament in Carbondale.

The Skiers, under first-year head coach Rolf Schildman, will step up in class and face a pair of Class 4A teams in the tournament at Roaring Fork High School.

The Aspen boys will play Rifle at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

They will take on Eagle Valley at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

“So far, things are going pretty well,” Schildman said as he prepares his first varsity boys team at AHS. Schildman coached the Aspen girls last year after serving as the Basalt High School boys head coach.

“Every day, we’re getting better and better,” Schildman said. “But I think everyone is looking forward to playing a game.”

He said the Skiers are tired of going against each other in practice every day.

“It’s time to see what we can do in a real game,” Schildman said.

The Skiers return two all-conference players from last year’s state-playoff team.

Evan Patzoldt and Dominick Alcorta, both seniors, are back for this season.

“We have Evan and Dominick back … we’re going to be counting on them a lot,” Schildman said of the experienced Skiers.

He said they will be joined in the starting lineup by 6-5 junior Tristan Niskanen.

“He’s got long arms. He can go get rebounds,” Schildman said of Niskanen, who saw some varsity time last year as a sophomore.

Junior transfer Colton Bonk, 6-3, joins the Skiers from Wisconsin, Schildman said.

Junior Jack Rosenthal will round out the starters.

He played extensively as a sophomore last season.

“He’s shooting really well,” Schildman said.

He said the two Class 4A opponents will provide a good test for the Skiers in the season-opening games in Carbondale.

“They are both bigger schools. They should give us good competition,” Schildman said.

The veteran coach said he has adjusted to the boys game after a season coaching girls basketball.

“Basketball is still basketball. It’s all about execution,” Schildman said, adding that the mission is to get the players to play together and play hard.

“I’m looking forward to this weekend,” the Aspen head coach said.

The Skiers will hit the road again next weekend for a nonconference game at Hotchkiss on Dec. 11.

Aspen will host its home opener on Friday, Dec. 12. The Skiers will take on Rifle for the second time.

Aspen also will host Vail Christian in a nonleague game before the holiday break.

The Western Slope League season opens Jan. 9 when the Skiers travel to Roaring Fork.

Moffat County is the defending conference champion on the boys side. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 4 in the state in the Class 3A preseason poll by