Aspen boys rebound in rivalry game rout |

Aspen boys rebound in rivalry game rout

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jim Paussa/The Aspen TimesAspen's Andrew Papenfus goes up strong as Longhorns center Scott Trantow defends Tuesday night at Basalt High School. The Skiers rolled, 72-39.

BASALT ” Aspen head coach Steve Ketchum likened Saturday’s double-digit loss against Coal Ridge to an “old-fashioned butt kicking.”

“It’s like we were taken out behind the shed and wailed on,” he said Tuesday of the 64-43 loss, Aspen’s first in 15 games this season. “It was just disastrous. [In the second quarter] we literally had 10 or 12 turnovers and nobody made a single shot from the field. It was the first time we faced adversity in months. And for the first time, I saw fear in our kids’ faces.”

There was no apprehension from the Skiers on Tuesday in Basalt. Only domination.

Aspen jumped out to a 15-point halftime lead, stretched its advantage to as much as 31 in the second half and rolled, 72-39, spoiling senior night for the Longhorns.

“All we wanted tonight was a great defensive effort,” Ketchum said. “I think we did that. … Everybody stepped in and contributed something really positive.”

The Skiers hardly needed extra motivation. Not only was it playing its downvalley rivals, but Aspen, ranked second in the Rocky Mountain News’ latest hoops poll, was determined to put Saturday behind them and maintain its slim one-game lead atop the 3A Western Slope standings.

That combination was a bad one for the Longhorns.

Center Walker Abrahamovich scored in the paint on the Skiers’ first two possessions, sparking a 14-3 run in the game’s first four-plus minutes. Five players scored and three ” Andrew Papenfus, Fritz Gonzalez and Andrew Cole ” connected from 3-point range for Aspen, which led, 17-7, after one quarter.

That momentum continued in a second quarter in which Skiers guard Matthew Holmes scored 11 consecutive points, fueling a 13-1 run that stretched his team’s advantage to 32-12 with two minutes to play.

Holmes, who played sparingly in the second half, finished with 14 points.

“Saturday was tough. It felt like everyone on [Coal Ridge] hit a 3. Even their big guy hit a half-court shot. That was the kind of night we were having,” Holmes said. “That made us get focused. … We proved we can bounce back.”

In a big way. Walker Moriarty scored in transition, Papenfus nailed another 3 and Abrahamovich hit a jumper in the corner in succession as Aspen opened the third with an 11-2 run. Senior Scott Trantow scored six points in the quarter but was the lone Longhorns player to hit a field goal.

Guard Devin Kahn’s two free throws in the final 10 seconds extended the Skiers’ lead to 58-29 heading to the fourth.

“We’re good enough to play with the middle of the road teams, but not the top two or three teams,” Basalt head coach Jon Pettit said. “They’re pacing the race. The rest of us are just battling for spots in the [district] tourney right now. … We either need to step it up and start executing or accept how things are right now.”

David Gruenefeldt and Omar Lopez were the lone Longhorns to score during a fourth quarter in which they could pull no closer than 27 points. Gruenefeldt finished with 15 and Lopez led all scorers with 19.

Abrahamovich scored 13, Papenfus chipped in with 10 and Watson added nine for the Skiers, who host red-hot Grand Valley at 7 p.m. Friday. The Cardinals have won eight straight and 10 of their last 11. Their only defeat during that stretch was a 14-point home loss to the Skiers.

“It will be THE game of the year,” Ketchum said. “Either we hold onto first place in the league or choke and get beat. I’m hoping the kids respond like they did tonight.”

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