Aspen boys basketball comeback falls short
The Aspen Times
CARBONDALE — The Aspen High School boys basketball team stormed back in the second half of the season-opener Friday.
But after chopping down a 14-point halftime lead, the Skiers came up short as Class 4A Rifle pulled away late for a 51-39 victory in the annual Brenda Patch Tournament at Roaring Fork High School.
“Essentially, we dug ourselves too big a hole,” said Aspen first-year head coach Rolf Schildman. “Hats off to them. They are well-coached. They’ve got some talent there.”
With four different players scoring, the Bears rumbled to a 12-3 lead in the first quarter, extending the margin to 26-12 by halftime.
“I think we came out tight a little bit. First game of the season, I think there were some nerves,” Schildman said. “I feel like in the first half we got outplayed, we got outcoached.”
Plus, the Bears hit four 3-pointers — two from Avery Lujan and one each from Luis Carreon and Morgan Robinson — in the first half.
“They’ve been playing together a long time, and they hit some shots,” Schildman said of the Bears and veteran head coach Roger Walters, a former boys coach at Roaring Fork and a former women’s college head coach at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
But Schildman said the Skiers regrouped at halftime.
“We made some adjustments,” the Aspen head coach said “That’s what I like about this team. We’ve got some smart kids.”
Evan Patzoldt started the Skiers’ run in the third quarter with back-to-back steals and layups.
His 3-pointer on the next possession was matched by Rifle’s Lujan, who would finished with fours 3s on the night.
But Dominick Alcorta answered for Aspen with back-to-back baskets for the Skiers, sandwiched around three rebounds.
When Shane Ormond collected a steal and drove for an Aspen layup with 35 seconds the Skiers pulled to within seven points — 34-27 — entering the fourth quarter.
Aspen outscored Rifle 15-8 in the third period.
“We showed some signs. I liked the effort,” Schildman said “I liked what I saw in the second half. By the end of the game, we had some chemistry going.”
A foul shot by Aspen’s Colton Bonk pulled the Skiers to within six.
But they would get no closer.
In spite of two fourth-quarter 3-pointers from Jack Rosenthal and another from Patzoldt, the Bears converted 5-of-7 late free throws and collected six points from Jack Boone.
“We missed some shots that might have changed the momentum a little bit here and there,” Schildman said. “But at the end, that was a good sign. I look forward to see how we carry over this energy into the next game.
The Aspen boys are back on the court at Roaring Fork High School on Saturday when they take on Eagle Valley at 3:30 p.m.
Patzoldt led the Skiers in scoring with 17 points.
Alcorta added 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Rosenthal scored eight and Ormond added five. Bonk scored four.
Lujan led Rifle with 17 points and his four 3-pointers.
Carreon and Robinson finished with nine points each.
Jacob Boone scored eight, and Austin Boone added four.
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A ski season surrounded with uncertainty kicks off on Wednesday. The six inches of new snowfall Tuesday will allow opening of an additional 62 acres on Aspen Mountain, bringing opening-day total to about 160 acres.