Aspen, Basalt b-ballers struggle in Steamboat
In early December each winter, high school basketball teams descend on Steamboat Springs for a tournament called the “Shootout.”Among the regular competitors are the boys and girls varsity’s of Aspen and Basalt high schools. This year, the Thursday-to-Saturday tourney proved rough on the local hoopsters, with the Aspen and Basalt girls teams and the Basalt boys winning one of three games, and the Aspen boys dropping all three.Basalt girlsWith a roster dominated by underclassmen, the BHS girls squad was still searching for its identity at Steamboat.The Lady Longhorns beat Steamboat’s JV team handily to open the tournament before losing close battles with Green River, Wyo., and Northridge of Greeley. The ‘Horns dropped to 1-4 overall record on the season.”We’re still trying to find combinations where people have trust and confidence in each other,” Basalt coach Terry Kappeli said. “We’re using a lot of different combos and we haven’t found that yet.”Kappeli said it wasn’t uncommon to find two freshmen and three sophomores on the floor at the same time. But as young as the Longhorns are, they’re full of potential.”They’re improving every game,” he said. “They have tons of potential – things are looking good.” Kappeli said he was “very, very pleased” with the play of junior Allison Brumet, senior Deanna Spracher and varsity newcomer Kelsea Mulcahy.”[Spracher] is pretty much the floor leader,” Kappeli said. “Along with Mulcahy, they both had a good tournament this weekend.”The Longhorns are off for the long holiday-season break until Jan. 7, when they face rival Roaring Fork in their Class 3A Western Slope League opener.Aspen girlsDespite losing two of three games in Steamboat, the Aspen High girls’ new head coach Dave Conarroe, who last coached the Skiers in 1991, was pleased with the effort.”I’m pretty happy with the overall results,” he said. “It was a nice, solid, all-around effort.” Aspen now stands at 3-2 overall on the season. The Skiers cruised past Steamboat’s JV squad with a 56-15 win before losing to Green River, Wyo., 47-31.”They’re a real solid club, aggressive and physical,” Conarroe said of Green River. “But I was real pleased with the effort. We didn’t get run out of the gym and I was worried we were in a position to get hurt by them.”The Skiers then lost to Carbondale’s Roaring Fork 46-43 to finish fourth in the tournament.Conarroe said all of the girls stepped up and played well over the weekend, including junior Corie Thompson and senior Liz Floyd, who were the leading scorers. But the biggest surprise was the play of junior Carly Rosen.”She’s turned into a defensive specialist,” he said. “She’s also our best three-point shooter.”Conarroe also pointed to juniors Carly Magill and Brittany Fortier for their strong, consistent play.”Magill’s been real solid, it’s nice to have her handling things,” he said. “And it’s nice to have Brittany step in – she did a really nice job.”Regan Mahaffey and Nena Sivess, the younger sister of former Aspen hoops star Leandra Sivess, round out the starting rotation.”Mahaffey’s just real tough, and Nena Sivess is a great person to have on the team,” Conarroe said. “She’s a constant team player. She picks up a couple boards and points every game.”The Skiers host Battle Mountain on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and travel to Rangely on Thursday before a holiday hiatus. “I like our chances in both our games,” Conarroe said. “We’ll see what happens, but I think we’re in pretty good shape to go into the season with a wining record.”AHS, BHS boysSteve Ketchum, coach of the AHS boys team, summed up the Steamboat Shootout this way:”We had a fabulous time. Unfortunately, we had to play three basketball games. We didn’t play well and got beat three games in a row.”Aspen opened the tourney with a 59-44 loss to the larger, Class 4A Conifer. On Friday, Aspen fell to another 4A opponent, Montrose, 61-35. On Saturday, facing Class 3A Western Slope League rival Basalt, Aspen’s struggles continued as the Longhorns won their first game of the Shootout 58-55.In Basalt’s first two games of the Shootout, the ‘Horns lost to Liberty 81-56, then 57-36 to Carbondale’s Roaring Fork on Friday.”Basalt was missing a few kids, including one of their top guards, Ben Pollock, and they were down to seven kids only,” said Aspen’s Ketchum. “We were focused and ready to go and we just came out flat. Two of the worst quarters I’ve seen in along time. To Basalt’s credit, they played smarter and shot the ball a lot better than we did.”Aspen and Basalt both stand at 1-4 overall on the season.”This group would have flashes of brilliance for a real short period of time and then we’d play a full quarter or two looking like we’d never seen a basketball in our life,” said Ketchum. “Just a really, really up-and-down type of situation.”But it’s early season and everybody’s still new to the program,” Ketchum continued. “It’s going to take time for the chemistry and the confidence to really build. I’m sure it’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of time.”The Basalt High boys are off for the holiday break until Jan. 7 for a rematch with Roaring Fork.The AHS boys play two games this week before the break – on Tuesday at home at 7 p.m. against Battle Mountain and then Thursday at Rangely. “It’s going to be tough to keep our heads above water before Christmas break,” the AHS coach said, “but I think we’re ready for the challenge.”
David Stapleton is the development officer for the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. A product of the club, AVSC sat down with Stapleton for a Q&A session in this week’s Clubhouse Chronicles.