Aspen boys basketball into district finals |

Aspen boys basketball into district finals

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Aspen High School boys basketball team will play for the Western Slope District Tournament championship today in Palisade.

The Aspen boys (18-3) advanced to the tournament title game with a workmanlike 57-34 victory over Coal Ridge in Friday night’s semifinal game, played at Palisade High School.

“The kids did a really good job,” Aspen head coach Steve Ketchum said. “We played good defense in the first half, and we played great defense in the second half … we held them to 15 points in the second half.”

The Skiers led 11-4 at the end of the first quarter but fell behind by one late in the second quarter.

But a 6-0 run right before halftime gave the Skiers a 27-19 lead and momentum for the second half.

Aspen senior Clayton Crawford, with 16 points in the first half, led all scorers with 24 points.

“Evan (Patzoldt) caught fire in the second half with 15 points,” Ketchum said.

Trent Lichtenwalter scored all 10 of his points in the second half.

Crawford also had a drive and a crowd-pleasing two-handed dunk in the fourth quarter to ignite the crowd, Ketchum said.

With early foul trouble, the Aspen head coach said he turned to sophomore guard Jack Rosenthal.

“He hit two 3-pointers in a row,” Ketchum said.

The Skiers, as a team, canned seven 3-pointers in the spacious Palisade High School gymnasium.

“We do like it here,” Ketchum said.

Aspen’s boys today will take on the winner of Friday night’s late game between No. 2 seed Moffat County (16-4) and No. 3 seed Grand Valley (13-7).

The boys tournament championship game is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. today at Palisade.

The Skiers almost were without the services of their head coach, who suffered a nasty fall down stairs at his house earlier Friday.

“But there was no way, I was not going to be here (in Palisade),” said Ketchum, who was treated by medical personnel and cleared to coach Friday night’s game.

By the time he was cleared to coach, Ketchum had to catch a ride to Palisade with an assistant coach, arriving just before tipoff.

“But, I’m lucky,” Ketchum said. “It could have been much worse.”

Coal Ridge (11-10) will move into today’s third-place game at 2:15 p.m. against the Moffat County-Grand Valley loser.

The Aspen boys, who also won the Western Slope League regular-season title, likely will get to host a Class 3A Regional Tournament next weekend if they win the District Tournament championship today. There will be eight Class 3A regional sites, with Aspen expected to be one if the Skiers take the district title.

Today’s consolation final for the boys, to determine the fifth and final qualifier to the Class 3A Regionals, will feature Roaring Fork (10-11) against Gunnison (7-14) at 10:45 a.m.

The Gunnison boys knocked off Cedaredge 67-53 on Thursday.

Roaring Fork, meanwhile, ousted Basalt 52-30 in a game played in Carbondale.

Girls basketball

In action in the girls division of the Western Slope District Tournament, Grand Valley played Moffat County in one of the semifinal games Friday.

No. 4 seed Moffat County upset the No. 1 seed Grand Valley girls 52-42. The Moffat County girls converted 18 of 19 foul shots in the victory over the Cardinals.

Moffat County is 15-6; Grand Valley is 16-5.

Olathe (16-4) played Gunnison (8-12) in the other girls semifinal late Friday night.

Grand Valley’s girls will play in the third-place game today against the Olathe-Gunnison loser.

Today’s schedule calls for the fifth-place game between Cedaredge and Coal Ridge at 10:45 a.m..

The Coal Ridge girls beat Aspen 78-34 on Thursday night in the consolation semifinals.

Cedaredge ousted the Roaring Fork girls 54-41.

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