Aspen boys edge Florence in 3A regionals
The Aspen Times
The Aspen Skiers headed to the Eastern Plains intent on taking care of business in the Class 3A Regional Basketball Championships at Brush High School.
First on the agenda for the Aspen High School boys basketball team at the business meeting in Brush: an appointment with No. 23 Florence on Friday night.
The Skiers, seeded No. 10 in the 32-team Class 3A field, almost had to work overtime before pulling out a tense 58-55 victory over the pesky Huskies.
The Aspen boys (19-4) outscored Florence 21-18 in the high-scoring fourth quarter to earn a trip to the regional championship game today against the winner of Friday night’s late game between No. 7 Brush (18-5) and No. 26 Clear Creek (14-9).
“This was a case of survive and move on,” Aspen head coach Steve Ketchum said. “Really, this was our worst game of the year. This was like we played at Olathe.”
The frustrated Ketchum said the Skiers played tight in the regional opener at Brush High School — 570 miles from Aspen.
“We played scared; we played with no confidence,” he said.
Worse still, the Skiers missed nine consecutive free throws late in the fourth quarter, he said.
“Clayton Crawford finally hit two free throws to give us the (58-55) win,” said Ketchum, who guided the Aspen boys in the Class 3A sweet 16 for the 12th consecutive year.
“And Florence (14-10) played so well,” Ketchum said. “They had three chances to win in the last 30 seconds.”
But the Skiers survived.
“Our defense was OK, but it wasn’t great,” he said, pointing to the third quarter when Florence outscored Aspen 18-9 to tie the game at 37-all entering the fourth quarter.
Aspen had led through most of the first three quarters, including a 28-19 halftime advantage.
“We would get a lead up to 10, 11, 12 points. Then, they would bring it right back down,” Ketchum said.
Crawford, in spite of a slow first quarter, led all scorers with 27 points in the regional semifinal.
Trent Lichtenwalter added 17 points for the Skiers.
Evan Patzoldt contributed eight points. Dominick Alcorta scored six.
“And no one else scored for us,” Ketchum said.
“I’m just glad we survived. I’m hoping we got it out of our system,” he said.
The Skiers will play at 1 p.m. today in Brush for an opportunity to advance to the elite eight of Class 3A basketball — the Class 3A State Championships at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs.
“We’re 32 minutes away from the Air Force Academy,” Ketchum said.
In other Friday Class 3A regional games involving teams from the Western Slope League, Roaring Fork’s boys lost a 56-42 decision at Colorado Academy in Denver. Colorado Academy is 21-2.
Roaring Fork finished the season 11-12.
In Class 3A regional action involving girls teams from the Western Slope League on Friday, Cedaredge got the ball rolling with a 50-43 victory over Centauri at Holy Family High School in Broomfield.
No. 17 seed Cedaredge (16-6) likely will face overall No. 1 Holy Family (21-1) in today’s regional championship game.
The Moffat County girls (17-6), hosting a regional in Craig, defeated Middle Park 62-55 on Friday.
The Bulldogs will take on Machebeuf in today’s regional championship game. Machebeuf (15-8) defeated the Academy 48-27 on Friday afternoon in Craig.
The Grand Valley girls edged Kent Denver 44-43 at the regional played in Manitou Springs. Grand Valley’s girls are 18-5.
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In the 50-mile race, three-time Olympian and Aspen bred Simi Hamilton bombed down Fanny Hill to capture the overall men’s title. Hamilton, who retired from professional cross-country skiing earlier this year, completed the race in a time of 4 hours, 17 minutes, 19 seconds. Nicole Tittensor, from Axtell, Utah, was the first woman to finish the 50-mile race.