Aspen boys rout Hotchkiss, improve to 17-0 |

Aspen boys rout Hotchkiss, improve to 17-0

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesSkiers guard Andrew Papenfus goes up for the dunk Saturday against Hotchkiss at Aspen High School.

ASPEN – The gap between Nos. 1 and 2 in 3A Western Slope boys basketball appears to be as big as the Royal Gorge.

That is hard to debate after Saturday’s result in Aspen. The Skiers closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run, led by 17 at the break and by as many as 41 down the stretch in a 72-36 blowout win over visiting Hotchkiss.

The two squads traded punches and were tied late in the fourth quarter the last time they squared off, on Jan. 30. Aspen ultimately prevailed, 60-49.

Skiers head coach Steve Ketchum could not hide his surprise this time around.

“Wow,” he said before ducking into the locker room. “What just happened out there?”

What happened is the Skiers dominated the Bulldogs (14-3), improving to 17-0 overall and locking up their third consecutive regular-season conference title.

Zack Babich and Nick Codd came off the bench to score nine points in the opening quarter, fueling a 10-0 run that helped Aspen overcome an early 6-2 deficit. Andrew Papenfus closed the quarter with a dunk in transition to give the Skiers a 14-6 advantage.

They never looked back.

While its defense held Hotchkiss to four points and one field goal in the second quarter, Aspen had six different players score. The Skiers controlled the paint and knifed their way through the Bulldogs’ man-to-man pressure with relative ease.

Nicky Fuller, who finished with 10 points, converted a runner at the buzzer to give Aspen a 27-10 halftime lead.

“To be honest, Hotchkiss did not shoot the ball nearly as well as they did last time, or take care of the ball as well,” Ketchum said. “But to hold a team like that to 10 points in the first half, that’s not just bad shooting. They scored 78 [Friday] against Roaring Fork.

“I don’t know, the guys were really on tonight.”

Matthew Holmes connected from 3, Carl Spiroff scored underneath, then Fuller beat the buzzer with a jumper in the corner in the final minute of the third, giving the Skiers a 48-19 advantage.

Aspen scored the first seven points of the fourth, and emptied the bench with more than four minutes remaining.

Babich led all scorers with 16 and Papenfus added 13 for Aspen, which had six players with seven or more points. The Skiers host Cedaredge at 5:30 p.m. in Tuesday’s regular-season home finale.

Dakota Coats finished with 10 for the Bulldogs, who had won five of their last six games.

“I wouldn’t have bet even a dollar on this being a 20-point win,” Ketchum said. “There’s no way I could’ve imagined this.

“Today was our measuring stick. Hotchkiss is the real deal … We’re trying to send a message to the eastern side [of the state] that we’re for real.”

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