Aspen boys basketball beats Moffat, moves on to play Coal Ridge
Throughout the Aspen High School boys basketball team’s seven-game losing streak, the opposition rarely mattered. The Skiers often stumbled over their own poles, the only blame for their misfortunate being themselves.
Monday against visiting Moffat County was different. The team was able to get extra pre-game shots in, and senior Zack George said the losses weren’t even on his mind.
There was a calmness to the team that hadn’t been present most of the season.
“Our biggest opponent all year has been ourselves. When we believe in ourselves, our shots fall because we are more confident in them,” Aspen coach Alex Schrempf said. “They really let the game come together. That was the biggest difference. Instead of forcing it, they were patient and making decisions. When something opened up, they capitalized.”
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In one of the more complete games Aspen has played all season, it held off a late Moffat County rally to win 59-49 inside the AHS gymnasium in one of two Class 3A Western Slope League district tournament pigtail games being played that night.
The loss ends MCHS’s season with a 4-16 record. Aspen, now 9-11, won for the first time since beating Olathe on Jan. 27 and will play at WSL regular-season champion Coal Ridge Tuesday at 6 p.m.
“The energy we had in the first quarter gave us a super beneficial lead and we were able to carry that the entire game,” George said. “It’s a team effort and we all worked really hard today and that’s why we won.”
A.J. Detrick was the catalyst to Aspen’s hot start. The senior hit a pair of 3-pointers to start the game — AHS led 13-9 after a quarter — and it was his 3-pointer right before halftime that countered a MCHS 3-pointer moments before. The Skiers led 27-23 at the break.
The team’s hot shooting carried into the third quarter, which began with a George 3-pointer. A few free throws later and Aspen’s lead was into the double digits.
The Skiers also did a good job limiting both of Moffat County’s big men: Justin Dugan and Keenan Hildebrandt.
“We played patient,” Schrempf reiterated. “We played good team defense for four quarters for maybe the first time all year. And that was really fun.”
The Bulldogs did have one late push in them, getting as close as five points after trailing by as much as 12. But AHS made enough free throws over the final two minutes and forced enough missed shots where the game never felt like it was slipping away.
“We were taking our time and being patient for once,” George said. “All of us have to play as hard as we did today, and I think if we play together and play hard, we can take out any team in the state.”
The Skiers played Coal Ridge once this season, losing 69-45 on Feb. 10 in Aspen. The winner of Tuesday’s game advances to the district semifinals on Friday.
The Basalt High School boys basketball team was off Monday. As the No. 2 seed in the district tournament, the Longhorns will host Gunnison Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Basalt. Gunnison beat Olathe in the other pigtail game on Monday. Basalt beat Gunnison 67-51 earlier in the season.
In the other two games Tuesday, No. 3 seed Roaring Fork will host No. 6 Cedaredge, and No. 4 Delta will host No. 5 Grand Valley.
Basalt girls hold off Coal Ridge; AHS season ends
It was a grind to the finish line, but the Basalt High School girls basketball team earned a rare playoff win by defeating visiting Coal Ridge 45-38 on Monday in their district pigtail game in Basalt.
“We got off to a pretty good start,” Basalt coach Kat Fitzpatrick said. “Third quarter was pretty good, but they slowly started coming back.”
The Longhorns led 21-12 at halftime in the grudge match, but needed a strong fourth quarter from freshman Michelle Marshall to hold of the Titans.
The teams met twice during the regular season, Coal Ridge winning 62-26 on Dec. 16, BHS winning 43-27 on Feb. 7.
“It’s a completely different team right now from who we were in December,” Fitzpatrick said. “It means a lot because it’s what we’ve been working for all season. We’ve been getting better and better and the wins might not have been there, but all that really matters is how you play at the end of the season.”
With “nothing to lose,” the Longhorns (5-15 overall) will play at Grand Valley (13-6) Tuesday in the district quarterfinals. The Cardinals finished 9-0 in WSL play and are the tournament’s top seed. The teams played as recently as Feb. 10, Grand Valley winning 71-46 in Basalt.
In the other pigtail game Monday, the Aspen High School girls lost 41-9 at Gunnison. The Skiers finish the season with a 1-19 record.
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Many of the trails in the Roaring Fork Valley, especially from the midvalley up, are far from ready and it’s important that people stay off of them despite having cabin fever.