Aspen boys top Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Aspen boys basketball coach Steve Ketchum remembered his first home loss to Kelly Meek’s Steamboat Springs team nine seasons ago with a heartbreaking shot at the buzzer.”We’ve always had close, great games,” Ketchum said after Aspen and Steamboat’s semifinal matchup at the Steamboat Springs Shootout.Friday night’s game was no different, except it was Aspen that came away with the thrilling win.
In front of a large home crowd, Steamboat’s Michael Vandahl hit a 3-pointer with a second on the clock to cut Aspen’s lead to two. With time expiring, Steamboat fouled Aspen’s Cory Parker on the ensuing in-bounds play. He hit both shots, putting Aspen up 54-50 for the win and ending Steamboat’s hopes for a final shot miracle.”That was unbelievably awesome,” said Michael Holmes, Aspen’s lone senior. “That’s the best competition we’ve had all year.”Steamboat jumped out to an early 8-7 lead with great perimeter shooting from Colby Kostur, who led the Pilots with 14 points. But failing to grab rebounds gave Aspen plenty of second chances. The Aspen trio of Cory Parker, Tommy Rittenhouse and Holmes made them pay on their way to draining six first half 3-pointers. Parker finished with 21 points, followed by Rittenhouse (13) and Holmes (10).
Although Steamboat gave up the lead, they again played their best basketball in the second quarter, outscoring Aspen 18-16. Kostur and Calkins answered Aspen’s shooting show with 3-pointers of their own while Cameron Petet and Alex Wood both finally found ways to penetrate the paint. The Sailors ended the half with a 10-2 run, capped off by a big 3-point conversion by Calkins to put them behind 27-30.The third quarter was a much quieter offensive showing for both sides. As Aspen began making costly turnovers, Steamboat failed to capitalize on its chances.”We were making stupid mistakes,” Steamboat’s Richie Keith said. “We need to be patient and get back to the fundamentals.”Despite the mistakes, Steamboat only trailed by two heading into the fourth quarter. Keith hit a 3-pointer to put Steamboat ahead 41-40. Calkins followed with a drive and a pass to Petet for a three-point lead.
Steamboat could not minimize mistakes and keep Parker and Rittenhouse from getting inside for baskets. Trailing 49-47 with a minute to go, Steamboat had a chance but failed to get a key rebound from Parker, who led Aspen with 17 rebounds, and lost the ball on a pair of scoring possessions. All Aspen had to do was hit its final four foul shots to secure the win.Meek had two simple explanations for Steamboat’s inability to seal the close match: “A lack of poise on offense and players not hitting the boards.”Meek said he hopes his team will be able to improve their decision making on offense and positioning and awareness on defense for their game today. Steamboat plays D’Evelyn for third place at 4:45 p.m.Aspen will take on Liberty for the Shootout championship at 8:15 p.m.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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