Aspen boys hoops drops second straight
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Aspen High boys hoops coach Steve Ketchum needed just two words to sum up Saturday’s effort against 2A Meeker.
“Humbling and embarrassing,” he said. “We all need to take a look in the mirror, especially me, and find out why we can’t play better than we’re playing.”
One day after faltering down the stretch in a season-opening loss to 4A Eagle Valley, the mistake-prone, depleted Skiers once again squandered a chance to log their first win. Aspen, which trailed by just two after 24 minutes, could not muster a point in the final quarter. The Cowboys were not much better, but, on the strength of 34 combined points from Cooper Smith and Trey Morris, pulled out a 49-43 road win.
“We looked a little bit like a JV team tonight,” Ketchum said. “I’m extremely disappointed in the overall effort. … Let’s be honest, they out-hustled, out-shot, out-everythinged us today.”
Particularly in the fourth. The Skiers repeatedly were careless with the ball, hoisted a host of ill-advised shots and could generate no rhythm on offense.
They were not much better on defense.
“There were just a tremendous amount of mental mistakes. They beat us to every single loose ball and every single rebound out there,” Ketchum said. “We gave them three or four chances to score, and eventually they did.”
Raul Lopez finished off the glass to square the game at 43 early in the fourth, then Scott Smith put Meeker ahead for good when he pulled down an offensive board and converted the put-back.
Not long after, the Cowboys seized all momentum after an Aspen technical. Cooper Smith drilled two free throws, and Dylan Mobley scored on the offensive glass to stretch the advantage to six with little more than two minutes remaining.
That margin all but put this one out of reach against the offensively challenged Skiers.
“We made so many bad decisions with the ball – we had guys open and couldn’t get them ball, guys triple-teamed and trying to shove it down the other team’s throat and turning the ball over,” Ketchum said. “It was tough to watch.”
Such was not the case early Saturday, when senior transfer Austin Roark hit two shots and a free throw, sparking an 8-1 Aspen run to open the first quarter.
Cooper Smith and Morris took over from there, scoring Meeker’s next 11 points – the last three coming on Morris’ half-court heave to beat the buzzer that squared the game at 12.
The Skiers took a four-point lead into the break. Then, Roark made his presence felt, scoring 13 of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter.
“We had a nice heart to heart in front of the team [at halftime] about raising his level of play. That’s as nice as I can say it,” Ketchum said. “In the third, he was the man on the court, the player we knew he could be. Of course, everything changed in the fourth for everybody.”
Clayton Crawford scored eight points and James Powell hit two 3 pointers for Aspen, which will have more than a week to make some adjustments; the Skiers next host Steamboat Springs at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12.
“Right now, we have to be the most wimpy team I can ever remember at Aspen High,” Ketchum said. “With the injuries and the sickness, with kids saying they’re hurt or don’t feel well, I feel like some of them don’t even want to go into the game. … Some guys need to become men and learn how to deal with adversity.
“I love these guys, and I think we have tremendous potential. From the best player to the last guy on the bench, we haven’t begun to scratch the surface of how good we can be or are going to be. … Next week, we’re going to cure some things. Dr. Ketchum is bringing the medicine, that’s for sure.”
For a second consecutive night, the Aspen girls jumped out to an early lead and were hardly tested.
The Skiers, who Friday outlasted 4A Eagle Valley, scored the first 10 points in Saturday’s tussle with 4A Battle Mountain. They led by nine at the half and cruised to a 46-32 victory, improving to
“It was a great weekend,” Aspen head coach Jeremy Haack said. “I’m really proud of the girls. They are just really committed to working hard and having fun.”
The Skiers had a lot of fun Saturday. Four different players scored during Aspen’s 10-0 run in the first quarter. Later, Olivia Porcaro drained a runner to beat the buzzer and give her team a seven-point cushion after eight minutes.
That advantage ballooned to as many as 13 in the second quarter, as the Skiers patiently ran their offense and generated a host of open looks.
“Things really carried over from last night. We shot the ball well last night, and we did that again today,” Haack said. “In the third quarter, our full-court pressure defense kind of turned it and got us a little bit more of a lead.”
While the defense contested nearly every Huskies shot in the third, Bailey Everhart found plenty of space in which to maneuver. The senior scored eight of her game-high 15 in the frame, helping Aspen pull away.
The Skiers led by as many as 23 in the final quarter. Battle Mountain closed the game on a 9-0 to make the final tally a little more respectable.
“We had the same defensive intensity no matter what the score was – that’s a big positive,” Haack said.
“I knew the girls were capable of having a good weekend. They deserve this.”
• Joey Vernier and Garrett Goldsmith scored unassisted goals in the third period, helping break a scoreless tie and lift the Aspen hockey team to a 2-0 victory over Battle Mountain in Vail.
Goalkeeper Patrick Severy turned away 17 Huskies shots to preserve the shutout, and the Skiers improved to 1-1. They host Doherty at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Ice
• Basalt’s boys and girls basketball teams each dropped to 0-2 after lopsided losses to Steamboat Springs at the Brenda Patch Tournament in Carbondale. The Longhorns boys fell, 47-32, while the girls dropped a 44-33 contest to the Sailors.
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