Aspen boys b-ball hosts sweet-16 game |

Aspen boys b-ball hosts sweet-16 game

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

With a record-setting 20 wins this season, the Aspen High boys basketball team has already accomplished more than any other team in school history.

The team, however, still has greater things in mind.

Tonight at 7 p.m. at the AHS Skierdome, Aspen tips off with Lake County for the right to the advance to the final eight of the Class 3A state tournament.

Aspen, the No. 8 seed in the field of 32 teams, now stands at 20-3 on the season after Tuesday’s 72-53 victory over No. 25 Bennett at the Skierdome. Meanwhile, No. 9 Lake County of Leadville, now 19-4, dispatched Carbondale’s Roaring Fork High School on Tuesday 72-52 to advance to the sweet 16.

“We haven’t seen them before, but I’ve got some pretty good scouting reports, and they all say Lake County is extremely talented,” said Aspen coach Steve Ketchum. “They’re got great 3-point shooters and a great post player. The key for us is how well we guard them.

“It’s a team, like the last team, that has more size than us,” Ketchum continued. “Their guards are 6-foot-3, 6-foot-1 and 6-foot, and their post player is 6-foot-6, and they’re all great shooters, great athletes. And they’ve got plenty of guys off the bench who can help.”

Aspen will counter with senior forward Jeff Brence and junior guard Nick Farrell. In last Saturday’s district tournament game against Roaring Fork, the so-called “Dynamic Duo” combined for 50 of Aspen’s 66 points in the victory. And in Tuesday’s win over Bennett, Brence knocked down 31 points and Farrell netted 20.

“We’re getting ready for the big one,” said Ketchum. “It’s the round of 16 and the winner goes to Air Force Academy for the state tourney. I was there last year, watching of course, and I sat there with 9,000 people cheering and screaming. It was a major college atmosphere, what every kid dreams about.

“We’re expecting the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” he continued. “It’s going to be a carnival atmosphere and it’ll give us goose bumps, but it’s what you play for, what we’ve worked hard for all year.”

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