Aspen boys basketball ready to hit the accelerator |

Aspen boys basketball ready to hit the accelerator

First-year Aspen High School boys basketball coach Alex Schrempf goes over inbounding plays during Wednesday's practice. The Skiers open their season Thursday at a tournament in Meeker.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times |

It seems first-year Aspen High School boys basketball coach Alex Schrempf believes his players have more than four cylinders to work with under the hood.

“We’ve got a bunch of Porsches sitting, idling in the garage with the door down that can’t get out and they really want to get out there and drive,” Schrempf said after Tuesday’s practice. “So we are excited for that, to let them loose.”

After a summer of open gym and weeks of official practices, the Skiers finally will get the chance to test the throttle Thursday when they open the season at the Cowboy Shootout in Meeker. Aspen will play Soroco at 3 p.m. in the first day of the three-day tournament.

The Skiers are beginning the season a week later than most teams.

“It gave us that little extra nudge of time to get to this week,” Schrempf said. “I’m nothing but excited. I won’t speak for all of the coaches, but one of my favorite parts about this whole thing we do is coaching games. It’s a lot of fun.”

Schrempf, 26, the son of former National Basketball Association all-star Detlef Schrempf, walked on to the UCLA men’s basketball team after a standout high school career in Bellevue, Washington. He inherits a team coming off a 6-14 season, its worst record in recent memory. Only three seasons ago, the Skiers went 19-5, the final season for longtime Skier coach Steve Ketchum in Aspen.

The goal is to bring back the prideful basketball culture that made the program so successful under Ketchum, who won nearly 300 games in his 16 years as the AHS coach.

“These guys will get it, because they are very, very intelligent. Now, it’s translating that into what we call a basketball IQ,” said first-year assistant coach Cory Parker, a 2008 AHS graduate who played for Ketchum before playing for Drake University in Iowa.

“We are building a new culture. We are building a new system. We are building a new program. And it’s going to start with this team here.”

Aspen’s first opponent, Soroco, is 0-2 this season with losses to Platte Canyon (42-27) and South Park (69-43). The Class 2A Rams went 15-5 last season, one of the best seasons in program history, but graduated a talented and deep senior class.

The winner of the first-round game moves on to Friday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal in Meeker against the winner of Hayden and the host Cowboys. The losers play in Friday’s 4:30 p.m. consolation semifinal.

“We accomplished more than I expected at this point in the season and we have more than enough to be ready for this tournament this weekend,” Schrempf said. “The only thing we can control, the only thing we expect night in and night out, is effort. Our guys have been demonstrating that they are willing to show up to the gym and work as hard as they can.”

Following the tournament in Meeker, the Skiers will play at Roaring Fork on Tuesday before hosting Vail Christian on Dec. 16, their final game before the winter break.

The Aspen girls basketball team (0-3), which played in its version of the Cowboy Shootout in Meeker last weekend, is off until Tuesday’s trip to Roaring Fork.