Anderson’s 23 points not enough for Aspen girls hoops against Gunnison
ASPEN ” Lindsey Anderson won the individual scoring battle of the opposing No. 23s in Friday night’s girls basketball game against Gunnison, but the Aspen junior would rather have the victory.
Anderson had her best individual game ever in a Skiers jersey, finishing with a game-high 23 points, but it wasn’t enough for the home team to hang with the visiting Cowboys.
Behind 21 points from senior Jac Lovato, also sporting jersey No. 23, Gunnison ” a preseason favorite to win the 3A Western Slope ” picked up a decisive 54-39 win on Aspen’s home floor.
The Skiers kept it close until about midway through the second quarter before Lovato took the game over, pulling down rebounds for easy putbacks and scoring nine of Gunnison’s 11 unanswered points before halftime.
Trailing 26-12, the Skiers (2-3, 0-1 3A Western Slope) hunkered down on Lovato in the second half, holding her to just four points. The early lead was too much to overcome, however. Aspen trailed by as many as 24 points at the end of the third quarter, but rallied in the fourth behind the sharp shooting of Anderson, who went off for 14 points.
“I wish we could have the first half back, because in the second half we played even with them and got after them,” Skiers coach Jeremy Haack said. “It was just that short little stretch in the second quarter where they kind of extended the lead a little bit. I think we got tired and we missed a few key blockouts and they got the easy putbacks.”
Lovato didn’t get as many easy looks in the second half, but didn’t force shots, either, instead choosing to set up teammates for baskets.
Gunnison’s Lindsey Hart and Katie Vader combined for seven of the nine points that Lovato didn’t score in the first half, but chipped in substantially in the final 16 minutes.
Vader finished with nine points while Hart added seven.
For Aspen, senior Kylie Westerlind found her shooting touch after missing her first four 3-point attempts. The senior sank her fifth attempt during a fourth quarter in which the Skiers opened on a 16-6 run and outscored the Cowboys, 19-10. Westerlind was Aspen’s second-leading scorer with seven points.
Aspen kickstarted its offense off turnovers from a full-court press, but after watching some of his reserves struggle with the pressure, Cowboys coach Kevin Mickelson subbed most of his starters back into the game.
Gunnison (2-2, 1-0) hit key free throws down the stretch to make sure Aspen never got within a 10-point window.
Anderson lamented that if the Skiers could have executed better in the opening half, the outcome might have been closer.
“The beginning was rough,” she said. “We fumbled the ball way too much and we had open shots, but we weren’t taking enough of them. In the second half, we just got after it more.”
Mickelson said his team still is working out the kinks, but added that he was pleased by the effort Friday. Having a dominant scorer like Lovato makes the transition from preseason to the regular season much smoother.
“The coaches voted her the second-best player in the league last year,” he said. “She’s an exceptional player. She’s very versatile. She does everything we ask of her. Really, she can [play every position] for us. Tonight, that’s very typical of her. She’s really unselfish.”
The Skiers play their final game before the two-week holiday break at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Olathe.
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