Aspen High boys basketball team falls 47-31 to visiting Rifle in season opener |

Aspen High boys basketball team falls 47-31 to visiting Rifle in season opener

Aspen High School's Sam Kahn looks for space against Rifle on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, inside the AHS gymnasium. (Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The excitement and the potential were still there after Tuesday’s season opener, even if the desired results were not. Looking to take a significant step this season, the Aspen High School boys basketball team struggled in Game 1, falling 47-31 to visiting Rifle inside the AHS gymnasium.

“It’s tough. It’s fun seeing guys like Rifle because there are so many things we can highlight to our boys,” third-year Aspen coach Alex Schrempf said. “There are a lot of positives. There are just a lot of things we got to clean up.”

After a 3-pointer by Aidan Smagala gave Aspen an 11-8 lead late in the first quarter, things started to unravel for the home team. Rifle led 12-11 entering the second quarter and took a 29-17 lead into the locker room.

“One of the things they needed to succeed with their size is that discipline and those little things they did well,” Schrempf said of Rifle. “They took their time, they made their free throws, they crashed every offensive board they could, and because of that I think they got at least 16 to 18 points off second-chance opportunities.”

The Bears pulled away in the third quarter and led 38-22 heading to the final frame. Rifle led by as much as 20 points late in the fourth quarter.

It was an important win for a Rifle team (1-0) coming off a terrible 2-21 season. The Class 4A Bears went 19-5 as recently as the 2015-16 season.

For Aspen (0-1), it’s about continuing to build from these losses. The Skiers went 4-16 a year ago.

“It’s really early. Our biggest thing is recognizing the potential of that growth,” Schrempf said. “With that being said, losses are our biggest teachers. We told them, we’ve been in exactly this same place the last two years. … We are fighting an uphill battle against ourselves sometimes.”

The Skiers will have a day off before heading to the Cowboy Shootout in Meeker on Thursday. AHS will play the host team that night in the first round of the eight-team tournament. Rifle will also compete in Meeker.

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