Aspen girls basketball continues to build with young roster; play Thursday |

Aspen girls basketball continues to build with young roster; play Thursday

Aspen's Ella Trane, right, plays against Roaring Fork last season.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

This won’t be a rebuilding year for the Aspen High School girls basketball team. Instead, it’s simply another season to build a foundation with a young roster devoid of seniors.

“We are definitely building. I like to look at it as every year is a building year, no matter how good you are,” third-year AHS coach Greg Peterson said. “Ideally you create a culture of winning, but first off you have to create a culture of excellence and effort.”

Aspen is coming off its third consecutive 1-19 season, last year’s lone victory coming Jan. 20 at Lake County, 36-29. The Skiers’ only other victory under Peterson came in the third game of the 2015-16 season, a 35-28 home win over Hotchkiss.

But, that all-important foundation could finally begin to be put in place this season. Aspen will have a roster without any seniors and only two juniors, meaning there will be a lot of sophomores, and even a few freshmen, on the court. This formula is unlikely to translate to immediate wins, but it’s an ideal situation for building a winning team down the line.

“We are taking baby steps and just trying to get better,” Peterson said. “All of my players are pretty new to the game. It’s an equal opportunity squad. The players who improve will be the players who play.”

Despite the relative youth, the Skiers do return many players with significant varsity experience from a season ago. Junior Lexi Ferlisi looks to be the veteran player among the projected starting five. Alongside her will likely be a group of four sophomores in Climary Sanchez, Ella Trane, Kat Goralka and Maeve McGuire.

Junior Ashlyn Dunn and sophomores Julisa Ruiz, Allie Forster and Payton Curley are in the mix as well. Peterson also hopes to get sophomore Paige Quist on the court at some point. The 6-foot-2 sophomore missed all of last season due to injury and is currently sidelined with a pulled muscle. Quist is the sister of all-American swimmer Kennidy Quist, now a freshman at Harvard.

“I’ve got a good group there,” Peterson said. “If we continue to improve, we’ll start to be competitive.”

Aspen gets its season underway at 6 p.m. Thursday when it plays Cedaredge at the Cowboy Shootout, hosted by Meeker High School. The Class 2A Bruins have been a force under fifth-year coach Ryan Hilbig, finishing third in the state two seasons ago. Cedaredge was 16-7 last winter.

Also playing in the three-day Meeker tournament, which concludes with the championship game at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, are Meeker, Rangely, Moffat County and Soroco, along with a few junior varsity teams.

“We’ll be challenged right out of the block. We’ll see how we do,” Peterson said. “We had a tough road schedule last year. Now that has come around. This year we’ve got a pretty kind road schedule.”

Following this week’s tournament, Aspen is off until it’s scheduled to play Roaring Fork in its home opener on Dec. 12. The Skiers then play at Vail Christian on Dec. 15 to finish out the 2017 portion of their schedule.

The first game back from break will be Jan. 5 against Moffat County, a game that will be played at the Pepsi Center in Denver. It’s part of a special promotion by the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, who host the Utah Jazz that night. The AHS girls will play Moffat County at 1 p.m. that day, followed by the AHS boys vs. Moffat at 2:30 p.m., also inside the Pepsi Center.