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Aspen boys top rival Basalt

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – With Saturday’s win over rival Basalt, Aspen improved to 4-0 and sits atop the 3A Western Slope at 2-0 heading into the holiday break. Why, then, is head coach Steve Ketchum dissatisfied?

“I’m happy we’re 4-0, I’m happy for the kids and that sort of thing, but we don’t look like a state playoff team. We’re a long way off,” the coach said Sunday. “We’re making too many mistakes, and they just seem to repeat themselves.”

Case in point: Aspen jumped out to an 11-1 lead Saturday, only to see its momentum wane during a lackluster second quarter, Ketchum said.



“We got all fired up and are really excited at the start … then nothing for the next eight minutes. We’re flat and get into a more passive, halfhearted-effort mode and watch teams come back on us,” the coach added. “That has been the theme this year.”

And, like in previous games, the Skiers regrouped during the second half. They outscored a depleted Longhorns squad 27-12 during the final 16 minutes and cruised to a 59-35 win.



The Skiers led, 15-12, after one quarter and by nine at halftime despite missing 10 free throws, a slew of lay-ups and turning the ball over 12 times.

“Oh my gosh, the way we were playing we were lucky to be winning at all to be honest,” Ketchum said. “If we played well, we could’ve been up 20. We’re just not doing it for any extended period of time.

“To their credit, teams are fighting extremely hard and making good runs at us, and we’re not giving it back. It’s frustrating to watch.”

Ketchum said as much when he addressed his team during the break – although no trash can was tipped like Friday against Grand Valley, he joked.

Among the things he talked about was Faith Christian’s 79-55 win over Glenwood Springs on Friday night. Glenwood “stuck it to us pretty good” when it played Aspen in a Thanksgiving weekend scrimmage, Ketchum said.

Faith Christian is the No. 1 team in The Denver Post’s preseason 3A hoops poll. The Skiers are second.

“To me, it feels like Faith is 30 points better than us right now,” Ketchum added. “We’ve got to improve in a lot of areas.”

Aspen outscored Basalt (1-3 overall, 0-2 3A Western Slope) 18-10 during the third quarter, then 9-2 in the fourth. Nine of the 12 Skiers who saw action scored. Andrew Papenfus, who has struggled to find his rhythm in the early going, connected on four of six 3-pointers and led all scorers with 19.

“In the first half we played tight with them. Then, their experience and athletic ability set the tone in the second half,” said Longhorns head coach Jon Pettit, who was missing four players because of injury and team issues. “They went on an 8-0 or 10-0 run to open the second half, and we were never able to recover from it. … We can chalk it up to a great learning experience.”

Basalt, which has dropped three straight, hosts Grand Valley at 7 p.m. Friday. Aspen next plays Jan. 8 in Olathe.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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