Aspen boys basketball routs Basalt to advance; Longhorn girls also roll on
Prior to Thursday’s 47-39 win, the Aspen High School boys basketball team had lost seven straight games to Basalt, dating back to 2015. Two days later, it seemed the Skiers still had some bottled emotions and finally uncorked them in a 70-43 rout inside the AHS gymnasium.
“We shot the ball well. We shot the ball confidently,” Aspen coach Alex Schrempf said. “One of the biggest differences I saw tonight, even in contrast to Thursday night against the same team, was that we came out looking for each other. Everyone was trying to create for the guy next to them.”
Saturday’s game matched No. 8 seed Aspen and No. 9 seed Basalt in the district play-in game, which is more or less the Class 3A Western Slope League tournament. The loss ended the season for the Longhorns, who finish 3-17 overall in C.P. Martinez’s second season as coach.
For Aspen, it will move on to play league champ Delta (15-4 overall, 9-0 WSL) on Tuesday evening in the district tournament’s round of eight. The game will be played in Delta. The team’s met as recently as Feb. 9, a 59-33 win for the Panthers in Aspen. It’s the only time they’ve played this season.
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“We can come more prepared. They just pressured really hard and I think we can overcome that and have a good game,” AHS junior Jonathan Woodrow said of Delta. “We are just becoming a team. We are coming together. We are learning how to play with each other and play with how each other plays.”
Woodrow was one of three Skiers to reach double figures on Saturday against Basalt with 14 points. Senior Noah Hollander led the team with 17 points, while senior Keegan Smiddy had 15 points.
“I was just so proud of the boys and how they adjusted,” Schrempf said.
The 70 points scored was the most for the Skiers since a 76-71 win over Moffat County on Jan. 21, 2017, Schrempf’s first season as head coach. The game was never close, with Aspen jumping out to a quick 6-0 lead and 16-5 advantage after a quarter. It was 31-14 at halftime and 55-25 after three quarters.
“This feels amazing,” Woodrow said. “We game planned our offense off of their defense. We got a good look at it the game before and we just made some adjustments that helped us score a little bit more. It’s starting to click. We were making our shots. We had a couple of guys just on fire.”
It was Aspen’s first postseason win since that 2017 season, when it beat Moffat County 59-49 in the district play-in game. The Skiers lost 77-31 at Coal Ridge in the quarterfinals.
Aspen hasn’t been past the quarterfinal round since the 2013-14 season under coach Steve Ketchum, his final season, when AHS made it as far a the Round of 16 in the 3A state tournament.
Delta is effectively ranked No. 11 in 3A in the Feb. 11 CHSAANow.com poll.
“We didn’t give them a real shot. We didn’t give ourselves a real shot,” Schrempf said of the loss to Delta earlier this month. “There hasn’t been another time between November and now that I’ve been so confident in our group of guys that they are going to come out together.”
BASALT GIRLS ROLL BY SKIERS TO ADVANCE
Earlier Saturday in Basalt, the BHS girls made easy work of Aspen, rolling to a 44-12 win in their district play-in game. Only two days prior, AHS had played Basalt competitively, losing only 39-31, but without a few key players were very much outmanned in the rematch.
“That’s the bummer for us, that they had key players missing at the key time,” Basalt coach Amy Contini said. “We feel we were kind of getting stronger at the key time and that’s just kind of how it goes, and especially in basketball with how long of a season it is.”
The Longhorns led 10-2 after a quarter and 23-4 at halftime in Saturday’s playoff game. The loss ends Aspen’s season, the first under co-coaches James and Lindsey Aldridge, with a 4-15 overall record. The four wins are the most for the AHS girls since winning 10 games in the 2011-12 season. They had only won a combined four games the past four seasons, going 1-19 each year.
For Basalt, the win brings its season record to 6-14 overall, the most since going 7-14 during the 2009-10 season. The Longhorns had won exactly five games each of the past two seasons under former coach Kat Fitzpatrick, who now is an assistant with Delta, the same team BHS will see in Tuesday’s district quarterfinals.
“That was probably the biggest goal we set for ourselves this year, not even knowing it had been so long,” Contini said of getting to that sixth win. “We wanted to continue to keep building the program up. We didn’t want to have a step back year. We wanted to keep going up, so the fact that we were able to get that sixth win, we feel like everything is off our back for this Delta game.”
Delta, which won both the boys and girls league titles, played the Basalt girls once this season, rolling to a 56-15 win on Jan. 12. The Panther girls are 18-1 overall and ranked No. 4 in Class 3A.
“I can’t say enough about how good both those Delta programs are right now, their girls and their boys. Both have the league title and to both be No. 1 is a really big accomplishment,” Contini said. “I know it’s going to be a pretty hostile environment to go into. They are going to have the town and the school rocking. We are just looking forward to it. We feel good about the way we are playing and that’s what we are going to focus on.”
Tuesday’s girls’ game between Basalt and Delta is tentatively scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in Delta. The boys’ game between Aspen and Delta is set to take place after the girls, around 7 p.m.
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