AHS boyswin in OT | AspenTimes.com

AHS boyswin in OT

Dubbed “the most exciting finish ever” by coach Steve Ketchum, the Aspen High boys basketball team beat Cedaredge 56-53 in overtime on the road in the opening round of the district tournament Tuesday night. “It was just unfreakinbelievable,” Ketchum said via cell phone from a Wendy’s after the game. “It’s happening, the kids are really gelling.” Aspen, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, led 21-17 at the half, and “we started to get confident. We were thinking we might really do something here,” Ketchum said. No. 4 Cedaredge struck back and led in the fourth quarter as time started to wind down. “It was nerve racking,” Ketchum said. But Aspen, which finished the regular season with a 5-14 overall record, eventually tied the game and held the ball with 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter. “It was a cat and mouse game, and we were going to take the last shot, do or die,” Ketchum said. Senior leader Brock Strasbourger, who had 16 points and eight rebounds, hit a jump shot with two seconds left to give Aspen a two-point lead and what seemed like a certain win. But an additional two seconds were added to the clock, and Cedaredge sunk a lay up at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. “Cedaredge goes nuts, they just go crazy,” Ketchum said. “But our kids just said ‘Forget it, we’re focused, were going to win it in overtime.'” With 15 seconds left in the four minute overtime period, Aspen held the ball. Skiers senior Hardy Anderson drove to the hoop and kissed a shot off the glass, which Ketchum described as an “NBA shot.” Then senior Joe Turner, who had a game and career high 21 points and 10 rebounds, stole the ball and hit junior Luke Gosda with a baseball pass down the court. Gosda sunk a field goal to give Aspen a three point lead with six seconds left. “It’s not over yet, they call time out and we know they’re going to shoot a 3-pointer,” Ketchum said. “They pass it to a kid in the corner, he bricks the shot and everybody goes nuts.”It was truly unbelievable.” Aspen advances to the district final four and has secured a birth in the regional playoffs. The Skiers will face No. 2 Basalt in the Class 3A Western Slope League district tournament semifinals Friday night at Palisade High School. Basalt beat Aspen by a combined 41 points in their two regular season meetings.But Ketchum expects a close game. He has said all along that it was just a matter of time before his team bonded and played up to their potential. “Their confidence level just continues to go up,” he said.Steve Benson’s e-mail is sbenson@aspentimes.com

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