Aspen boys, Basalt girls earn No.1 seeds | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen boys, Basalt girls earn No.1 seeds

Nate PetersonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

A day after locking up home-court advantage by winning respective district crowns, Aspen’s boys and Basalt’s girls found out who they’ll be hosting in the regional round of the 3A basketball playoffs. The 20-2 Skiers, fresh off an 11-point win over rival Roaring Fork in the district championship Saturday in Palisade, locked up the last of four No. 1 regional seeds in the bracket of 32 teams. The Skiers will host eighth-seeded Bennett on Friday, with No. 4 Salida (15-6) and No. 5 Holy Family (11-11) playing in the earlier game. (The official tip-off time for both contests hasn’t been set.)Skiers coach Steve Ketchum wasn’t exactly pleased with his team being awarded the fourth and final No. 1 seed after downing Roaring Fork – a perennial state contender – twice in the final two weeks of the season. “We felt like we should have moved up to two in the state,” Ketchum said. “We were expecting to be second, at least third based on the strength of our league and we got fourth. Our league representative told me that the coaches around the state thought our league schedule wasn’t as strong as the three teams ahead of us.”Colorado Springs Christian (19-3) earned the state’s top overall seed, followed by Eaton (20-2) and Faith Christian (20-1). Roaring Fork (17-5) earned a No. 3 seed and will be on the road at Sheridan, where it will face off against No. 6 University (14-9).Ketchum pointed out, having coached on the Western Slope for so many years, that a snub is nothing new. “It’s pretty typical,” he said. “That’s how the [Western] Slope has always been treated. You can’t cry sour grapes over it. It’s still the highest seed we’ve ever had.”The same is true for the Longhorns girls, who earned the second of four No. 1 seeds after finishing the season 19-3. Basalt – the top-ranked team in the state for a large portion of the regular season and the 2007 state runner-up – will host No. 8 Peak to Peak (11-11) in Friday night’s late game. No. 4 Kent Denver (13-9) will play No. 5 Estes Park in the earlier game. (Game times have yet to be announced.)Longhorns coach Carolyn Compton said it’s natural to scrutinize the state selection committee’s decisions and infer biases. It’s also counter-productive, she said.”My first instinct wasn’t the best, but the more I look at it, I’m pretty excited about it,” Compton said. “I can’t and won’t complain. It’s going to come down to our girls’ understanding of knowing what they want and coming out and playing like they have for the majority of the season.”Last year’s run to the state title game began on Basalt’s home court, an advantage Compton didn’t try to downplay Sunday night. The same goes for state playoff experience, and not just on the basketball court.”I’m not sure Basalt’s known for the biggest crowds, but these girls really know how much their crowd loves and appreciates them,” she said. “The five seniors on this team definitely have an understanding that all of them had an impact in getting to the title game last season. They’ve all been to state in one sport or another, too, and they’re ready to get one. It’s something they truly want and I think it’s something they truly deserve.”In a twist of serendipity, Aspen last played Bennett in its last home regional championship game six seasons ago. The Tigers have changed coaches since then, and are now led by second-year man Aaron Riessen.”They’re a good team,” Ketchum said. “They finished first in their league and simply faltered in districts. You’ve also got Salida, who had a great season, and Holy Family which plays in the toughest league in the state, the 3A Metro.”Looking at all three teams, Ketchum said their strengths are guard play and quickness – which could pose problems for the bigger Skiers. Aspen is led by two of the state’s best big men in seniors Cory Parker and Michael Taylor.”It doesn’t matter who it is, you just have to go out and win,” Ketchum said. npeterson@aspentimes.com.

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