Aspen boys travel to Brush for regionals
The Aspen Times
The Class 3A Basketball Regionals will mean a road test for the Aspen Skiers — a long road test.
The Aspen High School boys basketball team (18-4) finished as the runner-up at the Western Slope District Tournament in Palisade last weekend, falling in the championship game to Moffat County. But the Skiers still earned the No. 10 overall seed in the 32-team field in Colorado Class 3A basketball’s state playoffs.
The Aspen boys will head to Brush on Colorado’s Eastern Plains for a four-team regional hosted by No. 7 overall seed Brush (17-5). The Skiers will take on No. 23 Florence (14-9) in the opening game at 5 p.m. Friday.
Brush will take on No. 26 Clear Creek (14-9) in the 7 p.m. game Friday that will match the host Beetdiggers against the Golddiggers from Idaho Springs.
The two winners will play at 1 p.m. Saturday at Brush High School for the right to advance to the final eight of Class 3A basketball at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs on March 13-15.
“We are excited; we like our draw,” Aspen head coach Steve Ketchum said after the Skiers were assigned to the Brush regional. “I am thrilled to death we are not playing a private school.”
Ketchum said the Skiers will break up the 570-mile trip to Brush with a stayover Thursday in Denver where the Skiers will practice at a Denver-area high school.
They will head east past Fort Morgan to Brush for the Friday-Saturday tournament.
“We know it will be tough on the road,” Ketchum said, adding that Aspen won all of its home games this year. Their only losses came on the road.
“We’ve got to play hard, and do what we can do,” Ketchum said. “I’m confident our kids will play well (on the road).”
The veteran Aspen coach said Florence will provide a stern test in the opening game with a balanced attack — four players for the Huskies average 8 or more points per game, led by junior Matthew Miller (13.3). Miller also is Florence’s leading rebounder at 8.5 per game.
Senior Ryan Wilson, with 29 3-pointers this year, is averaging 10.5 points per game for Florence.
Senior Dennis Donley is averaging nearly 10 points per game. And senior Josh Sisneros, their leading 3-point shooter with 31, scored 8 per game this season.
Florence advanced to the Brush regional with a 49-42 victory over the Classical Academy on Saturday. The Huskies were torrid at the foul line, converting 18 of 20 free throws against Classical.
The Skiers will counter with three scorers averaging double figures — Trent Lichtenwalter (17), Clayton Crawford (15) and Evan Patzoldt (13).
Crawford also is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game. And Lichtenwalter is averaging 6.8 boards per game.
“Trent was having the game of his life against Moffat County,” Ketchum said of the AHS senior. He had scored 19 points through three quarters before suffering a gash on his head. He played the final few minutes with his head heavily bandaged.
The Skiers, who led entering the fourth, ended up losing 62-54 to Moffat County, which will host a regional as the No. 5 overall seed.
Lichtenwalter will be wrapped up in bandages again Friday when Aspen takes on Florence.
Ketchum said point guard Levi Wright is battling a tough cold but should be back for Friday’s game at Brush High School.
The Skiers also will throw Dominick Alcorta and their trapping defense at the Huskies on Friday night. Alcorta also is averaging nearly three assists and four rebounds per game.
Moffat County hosting
Moffat County, as the No. 5 seed at 18-4, will take on No. 28 Sheridan (9-14) in the opening of regional play Friday. No. 12 Machebeuf (14-8) will play No. 21 Fort Lupton (12-10) in the other regional semi.
No. 14 seed Grand Valley (from the Western Slope League will be in the regional at No. 3 Colorado Springs Christian (19-3). Grand Valley (14-8) will play No. 19 Pinnacle from Federal Heights (17-5) on Friday. Colorado Springs Christian will play No. 30 Frontier Academy of Greeley (12-11). The winners will play Saturday afternoon.
No. 22 seed Coal Ridge (11-11) will play in the regional at Denver Science, the No. 6 seed. Denver Science (17-5) will play No. 27 James Irwin of Walsenburg (14-8). Coal Ridge will take on No. 11 St. Mary’s (18-4).
Roaring Fork, the other regional qualifier from the Western Slope League, will be in the regional at No. 4 Colorado Academy in Denver. Roaring Fork (11-11) will play Colorado Academy (20-2) in the regional semifinal. Also, No. 13 Platte Valley (16-6) will play No. 20 Monte Vista (14-7) in the Colorado Academy regional.
Other Class 3A regionals will be hosted by No. 1 Jefferson Academy (19-3), No. 2 Holy Family (20-2) and No. 8 Alamosa (13-9).
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The camp not only let the players shake the rust off, but it opened a window into the soul of Michael Goerne. A Minnesota native, Goerne moved to Carbondale soon after graduating from Marist College in New York and is largely credited for the massive growth of lacrosse in the valley.