A dedicated season for Aspen boys

Tim Mutrie

Alex Terral would be senior now.”I think there’s no question he would’ve been the best post-player in our league,” said Steve Ketchum, head coach of the Aspen High boys basketball team.”Alex was a kid you can’t replace; at 6-foot-7, he was turning into a dunking machine.”Terral died in a car accident east of Aspen in June. His teammates, including best friend David Porter, a senior forward, are dedicating this season to his memory.”The kids who grew up with Alex feel very strongly that they want to play in his honor. They feel Alex is still a big part of this,” Ketchum said.When the AHS boys open their 2004-05 season tonight at 8 p.m. against West Grand of Kremmling during the first day of the Aspen Invitational Tournament, the team plans to make a dedication to Terral, whose dad, Tim, was a volunteer assistant coach under Ketchum last season.”We’ll make it short and sweet. We’re going to do something more personal, and emotional, for senior night” – at the regular-season home finale – “but we also owe it to Alex to focus on playing some basketball,” Ketchum said.Last year’s squad finished at 14-9 overall, in third place in the Class 3A Western Slope League. A high point came when Aspen upset heavily favored Eagle Valley – Aspen’s opponent on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the Aspen Invitational – in the 3A WSL district tournament.Senior point guard Brock Strasbourger returns as a starter. “Brock’s our team leader, our stud, our point guard, team captain and the hardest worker we’ve got,” said Ketchum.The 6-foot-3 Porter returns as a varsity letterman after an emotional journey. Porter’s family moved to Chicago following the close of school last year. The family moved back to Aspen after Terral’s death.”They were in Chicago for the summer and then they came back when Dave decided he wanted to play in the memory and honor of his best friend, Alex. It was a very emotional decision for him,” said Ketchum. “And Dave is vastly improved. He can shoot the ball well, and he’s going to do some damage for us this year.”Four inches taller than last year, at 6-foot-3, senior guard Joe Turner also returns as a varsity letter winner. “He’s become a good scorer, a great rebounder, just a great kid,” said Ketchum.Senior Colter VanDomelen should be a prominent fixture in the Skiers’ backcourt. “He plays one speed and that’s all out,” said Ketchum.Two newcomers to the squad include senior forward Hardy “Vice” Andersen, a 6-foot-3 transfer student from Miami, and 6-foot-4 senior foreign exchange student Halli “Ice” Stefansson, of Iceland. Andersen is “probably our best sprinter and our best jumper. He’s going to be a great asset,” said Ketchum. “Then we got Iceman, who’s very strong and powerful, a post guy who can play like a guard.”Juniors Luke Gosda and Tucker Helmus, sophomore Matt Beirne and freshman Cory Parker should be factors off the bench for Aspen.”The team’s going to be a lot more exciting. Last year, we were big and slow and we really struggled to score. But this year, we’ve got five guys in the starting lineup that can all score. Offensively, we should be much better. And we’re definitely going to be quicker.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is