Aspen, Basalt girls struggle in district openers |

Aspen, Basalt girls struggle in district openers

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Little more than a week ago, Aspen senior Lindsey Anderson predicted that the Skiers girls basketball team would surprise some people in the district tournament.

Aspen still has that chance, even after a loss.

The Skiers trailed host Grand Valley by just nine with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s district tournament opener. The Cardinals closed with some strong free throw shooting, however, to pull out the 52-33 win – its third over Aspen this season.

All hopes of a playoff berth are not lost for the Skiers, however. If they win two more games – Thursday at rival Basalt, then Saturday at Palisade High School – they could secure the 3A Western Slope’s fifth and final state qualifying spot.

Basalt (6-13 overall) lost, 54-31, to Hotchkiss in other opening-round action Tuesday. Head coach Dane LeBlanc did not return calls seeking comment.

“The girls played so incredibly hard against one of the top teams in our league,” Aspen coach Jeremy Haack said. “I feel great, just with the way we’ve been playing the last three to four weeks. They’re playing with so much confidence and are shooting the ball well.”

The Skiers (6-14) dropped seven straight games from Jan. 22 through Feb. 6, but have regrouped in dramatic fashion. They won three of their next four games before dropping Saturday’s regular-season finale at Coal Ridge.

That strong play continued Tuesday, fueled by Bailey Everhart and Anderson, who combined for 21 points. The Skiers fouled repeatedly down the stretch in an attempt to extend the game, but couldn’t close the gap.

Aspen and Basalt, which has dropped five straight, square off Thursday in what is expected to be a thriller. The two games the Skiers and Longhorns played this season – both Basalt wins – were decided by a total of 12 points.

Anderson led all scorers with 17 points in first head-to-head on Dec. 12, when Aspen erased a 13-point halftime lead and squared the game with 6 minutes, 30 seconds to play. The Longhorns managed to hang on, however, thanks in part to some clutch free throws from Nicole Booth in the waning moments.

Booth, Mackenzie Buck and Jamie Matherly all scored in double figures in Jan. 29’s 49-41 win.

“I told the girls that if they play with the same intensity on Thursday night like they did today, then it’s going to be a great game,” Haack said. “It’s Aspen and Basalt and everything is on the line. What more could you want?”

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