Aspen boys basketball stops Cedaredge
The Aspen Times
The Aspen Skiers needed a fast start and a fast finish in the home opener Tuesday night.
The Aspen High School boys basketball team blitzed visiting Cedaredge to the tune of a 15-0 first quarter against the previously unbeaten Bruins.
But it took an equally explosive fourth quarter to turn back a furious Cedaredge rally as the Aspen boys won the Western Slope League showdown, 50-44, in the Aspen High School gym.
“We believe in Aspen that defense wins championships, so our defensive intensity has to be there,” senior guard Levi Wright said after the Skiers shut out the Bruins in the opening quarter. “We want it to be there every game.”
Wright, who scored seven points in the first period, said he tried to push the pace on offense early.
The high-scoring Bruins answered with an offensive surge in the second and third quarters, outscoring the Aspen boys, 28-18.
But a series of defensive stops in the fourth quarter, along with nine points from Trent Lichtenwalter in the final 8 minutes, pushed the Aspen boys past the Bruins, who hit six 3-pointers in the game.
“Trent is a monster,” Wright said of his senior teammate, who finished with 13 points. “For him, being able to play all four quarters and still have enough to finish that (basket) and-one (free throw) was huge.”
Wright referred to a inside power basket by Lichtenwalter with 27.5 seconds to play in the game, stretching a scary 45-42 lead to 47-42. His free throw extended the lead to six.
“Great game by Trent; great game by the rest of the team,” said Wright, the son of Susan Dillingham and Daniel Wright.
“Trent … didn’t come out of the game,” Aspen head coach Steve Ketchum said. “He … just found another gear. He went after the ball and made some huge plays for us down the stretch.”
The Aspen head coach said the Skiers had one of the best starts ever in the 15-0 run against the tall and talented Bruins (3-1).
“We were firing on all cyclinders … to start the game. It was exciting to see,” Ketchum said, adding that he knew Cedaredge would rally behind a fleet of outside (and inside) scorers.
“They are really good. They can score at every position, and they have guys who can really shoot the basketball,” he said of the Bruins, who had three 3s from Dillon Smith and two more from 6-5 shooting guard Trent Walker.
Walker, hounded on defense by Aspen’s Dominick Alcorta, finished with just six points.
Chance Hanson led Cedaredge with 12. Smith added 11. Taylor Beach scored eight.
Wright and Lichtenwalter had 13 each for the Skiers (3-2).
Evan Patzoldt, with a key defensive steal in the fourth quarter, added 10 points for Aspen, including two 3-pointers.
Clayton Crawford added eight points and one of four Aspen 3-pointers.
“I thought we struggled in the middle two quarters,” Ketchum said. “We shot poorly … poorly around the rim.”
The Skiers, who completed a run of five games in seven days, will break for the holidays.
Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Aspen’s John Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him. He eventually finished runner-up in the iconic race.
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