Aspen enters playoffs on winning notes
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Both Aspen High School hoops teams traveled to Gunnison Saturday and collected wins on their last games of the regular season.
The AHS boys finished the year with a 17-2 overall record, thanks to Saturday night’s 62-45 win. Coach Steve Ketchum said another stellar performance by the team’s “dynamic duo,” senior Jeff Brence and junior Nick Farrell, helped the team to a 38-22 lead at the half.
“Nick had 17 points in the first half, and Jeff had 12 – that’s 29 of our 38 points right there. That really got us off to a great start,” Ketchum said.
Farrell finished the game with three 3-pointers, and juniors Zac Paris and Brett Mufson shot for a combined 15 points.
With the win, the Skiers earned a No. 2 seed in this week’s Class 3A Western Slope League District Tournament. First up, AHS will play the winner of Tuesday’s pigtail match between Olathe and Rangely.
The Skiers will enter districts after losing yet another player to injury, Ketchum said. Moss Schermerhorn, a 6-foot-5 sophomore who has already battled a bout of mono as well as a torn calf muscle, has been sidelined for the season and maybe more with a heel injury.
Injury has plagued the AHS boys all season – the team lost three starters in the first month of play – but Ketchum said the team has managed to bounce back during the last few games of the regular season. Hopefully, the trend will hold throughout districts, he said.
“We played really hard, and I’m very pleased with the outcome,” Ketchum said. “We’ve had three good games back-to-back at both ends of the court – these kids are starting to play with confidence and intensity.”
AHS girls coach Lance Finkbeiner said the team “probably had our best game of the year, performance wise,” on Saturday, earning a 60-32 win over Gunnison.
In a way, the game helped the Skiers get revenge – Gunnison knocked the girls out of district play last season, cutting AHS’ regional tournament hopes short. Aspen retaliated this weekend by gaining control early in the game, earning a 17-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“We dominated the game, basically the entire game,” Finkbeiner said. “We’ve gotten leads in the past this year, 10 point leads, and let the other team hang around. [But on Saturday] we led 28-15 at the half … and 41-21 in the third. We stretched the lead the whole game, and beat them every quarter.”
A big reason for the win was the game’s easy atmosphere, Finkbeiner said. The team was ready to take a No. 6 seed in the coming week’s district tournament, the coach said, and was hoping to finish up their last game of the season and start preparations for tournament play.
“Anytime there’s no pressure, we respond well on the road,” Finkbeiner said. “It’ll be good to see if it carries on into this week.”
High scorers for the game included seniors Lacee Patterson, Lizzie Suiter and Zara Podolak with with 15 points, 11 points and 10 points, respectively. Sophomore Leandra Sivess and senior Mur Hale also shot for 9 points each.
The girls also earned a season best – the Skiers only allowed 10 turnovers throughout the game, Finkbeiner said.
The AHS girls now advance to a “pigtail” game on Tuesday that will determine where the team sits in district play. The Skiers will host No. 11-seed Hotchkiss around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Finkbeiner said.
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The dual-sport student-athlete was named to the Class 3A Western Slope League all-conference first team for softball as one of two Carbondale players on the Basalt High School softball team team last fall.