Aspen boys hoops splits in opening weekend
Behind senior Aaron Parada’s 19 points, the Aspen High boys basketball team downed West Grand of Kremmling 46-41 in their season opener on the road Friday night.
Then, facing the top-10 state-ranked Kent Denver on Saturday, Aspen nearly staged a big upset, losing in the final minutes 66-59.
“That’s a pretty good start,” Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said.
“Very pleased with the effort of the kids, very pleased with the overall performance, and actually a little surprised that we’re playing as well as we are considering our lack of experience.”
While Aspen struggled from the free-throw line Friday at West Grand (11 for 36), the Skiers’ defense made up for it, Ketchum said, as Aspen led 23-16 at the half.
“Without a doubt, we won the game with our defensive effort,” he said. “And they had some kids who could really score.”
Senior Moss Schermerhorn had 12 points for Aspen, “and everybody else just chipped in,” Ketchum said.
“What’s amazing is that we pulled it out shooting as badly as we did from the line,” the coach continued. “No explanation for it. But we overcame it.”
In Saturday’s game at Kent Denver, the Skiers came out and surprisingly ” at least to the home fans ” managed to hang with the perennial state contenders.
Aspen trailed six points at the half, 32-26.
“And we weren’t even playing well at that point,” said Ketchum.
“But they took us lightly. I think we pretty much shocked the crowd, shocked the coach and shocked their team.”
Schermerhorn tied the game with three minutes left on a 3-point play, “and then it’s a defensive dogfight from then on,” the coach said.
Aspen missed a layup for a chance to take the lead, and then was forced into fouling down the stretch, Ketchum said.
The difference in the game ” seven points ” came from Kent Denver free throws with a minute to play, Ketchum said.
Schermerhorn led all scorers with 23 points, including five 3-pointers, and was 6-for-8 from the charity stripe. Parada scored 21 points, going 5-for-6 for the FT line.
“The sad thing is, looking back, I’ll bet we missed 10 or 12 layups around the basket,” the coach said. “But we came away 1 and 1, almost 2 and 0, and I’m very, very proud of our effort.”
“And the best news of all, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to get a lot better,'” he said. “It’s a far cry from what we looked like in the preseason, so this gives us a little hope and encouragement.”
Next up for Aspen is the annual Steamboat Springs Invitational, Thursday through Saturday.
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