Aspen boys rout Coal Ridge, secure district hoops crown |

Aspen boys rout Coal Ridge, secure district hoops crown

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

PALISIDE, Colo. ” Aspen boys basketball coach Steve Ketchum was in shock. He wasn’t the only one.

At one point late in Saturday’s 3A Western Slope district championship game at Palisade High School, Ketchum gazed at the scoreboard and saw that his Skiers were leading Coal Ridge by 40 points. In the end, four players scored in double figures for Aspen, which shut down the high-scoring Titans with stout defense and rolled to a 72-42 win, clinching a second-consecutive district crown.

The win assures that the Skiers (21-1), the state’s third-ranked team, will host a four-team regional next weekend. State tournament brackets will be released Sunday afternoon. Aspen hosted last year, when they advanced to the state semifinals in Fort Collins.

“It was just unbelievable,” Ketchum said. “The defense was phenomenal. The kids were incredibly focused and in attack mode all night.”

Coal Ridge guard Erick Schmitz, the Slope’s leading scorer, was held to just four points in the first half. Back-court mate Andy Smedra didn’t score in the first 16 minutes.

While the Titans struggled, Aspen was off and running. It led by 27 at the half.

“We had so much balance from inside out,” Ketchum said. “All we talked about in the locker room was playing like champions and playing like a state tournament team. … We kept pouring it on.”

Andrew Papenfus led the way with 19 points, sinking three 3-pointers. Guard Matthew Holmes, who routinely broke the Coal Ridge press and fed teammates for easy transition scores, pitched in with 15. Trevor Watson finished with 16 and Walker Abrahamovich added 14.

Aspen was outscored, 24-1, during the second quarter of Feb. 7’s loss to Coal Ridge. The Skiers have won six games since ” four by double digits.

Now, they’ll be home when regional play commences.

“To me, this is the most exciting time of the year. It’s March Madness at its best and it really is one and done,” Ketchum said. “Hopefully, it will be a repeat of last year.”

In other action Saturday, the Gunnison girls topped Basalt, 57-34, in the district championship game.

Check out Monday’s Aspen Times for more on Saturday’s games and Sunday’s playoff brackets.

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