Aspen girls battle back, top Cedaredge; Skiers boys roll to 18-0
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – No need to panic.
Even after scoring 21 points through three quarters and trailing by nine with seven minutes to play Tuesday night against Cedaredge, Aspen head coach Jeremy Haack was confident his team could claw its way back into the game.
“Especially because of the way we’ve been shooting the ball lately, I knew we’d be OK,” the coach said.
That touch saved the Skiers again. Georgia Lipkin and Lindsey Anderson hit back-to-back 3’s to cut the lead to three, sparking a 14-2 run that gave Aspen its first lead with about four minutes to play. Anderson made sure it held up, shining on senior night with 23 points to propel the Skiers to a 41-37 victory.
“Man, what an unbelievable effort,” Haack said. “They never get down, they pick each other up. We hit some big shots down the stretch.”
After trimming the deficit to three, Anderson drove fearlessly into the lane and scored off the glass. With 4 minutes, 43 seconds to play, she hit two free throws to pull Aspen (6-12 overall, 5-10 3A Western Slope) to within one.
Twenty seconds later, Jonelle Berklund scored in transition to put the Skiers on top, 33-32.
“We like to make it exciting,” Anderson joked. “Last time we played them, we entered [the fourth trailing] by 15. We knew we had to step it up. It was all our mistakes, and we can control that.”
After Amber Farr hit a free throw to trim the Skiers’ lead to one with 2:42 remaining, Anderson hit the hardwood on a strong drive to the hoop and somehow got the basket to fall.
She failed to hit the ensuing free throw, which would have made it a two possession game.
No matter. Lipkin, who finished with eight points in her final game at Aspen High, nailed two from the charity stripe with 2:14 to play to extend the advantage to five points.
The Bruins twice pulled to within three, but Anderson connected on three of four free throws in the final 45 seconds to seal the win.
“We’re still struggling to play a full game, but at least we’ve been able to hold on,” Anderson said.
Aspen, which was coming off an impressive 58-point effort in Saturday’s win over Hotchkiss, struggled on offense early Tuesday. They could muster just two field goals in the opening eight minutes as Cedaredge, buoyed by Jheri Gates’ seven early points, took a 9-5 lead into the second quarter.
The Bruins extended their advantage to nine soon after when Farr hit a 3 and Caitlin Walker scored off the glass.
The Skiers kept things close, in large part because of aggressive full-court pressure that generated turnovers and transition opportunities. They pulled to within three at the half, and trailed by six after three quarters.
In the fourth, Aspen made its move and pulled out its third win in the last four games.
“The girls are playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Haack said. “This was a fun game to be a part of.”
“The start [of the season] was a little rough, but we’re definitely ending strong,” Anderson added. “We’re going to surprise some people [at districts].”
Skiers head coach Steve Ketchum did his best to dodge post-game questions Tuesday night.
“Go talk to someone else. I really don’t have a lot to say,” he said.
With good reason. He has seen this many times before.
Aspen closed the first quarter on a 19-3 run and, led by Andrew Papenfus’ 22 points, rolled to a 70-39 win, improving to 18-0 with one regular-season game remaining.
The Skiers, who have already locked up a second consecutive 3A Slope crown and are currently ranked second in the state, finish on the road at 4 p.m. Saturday against Coal Ridge.
They are cruising to the finish. Four different players scored seven or more points during a first half in which the Skiers erupted for 40 points and jumped out to a
23-point halftime lead.
Leading the way was Papenfus, who appears to have shaken off some early-
season struggles. The senior hit two 3’s and scored 11 points in the first 16 minutes.
In the third quarter, Papenfus scored eight straight points during a two-plus minute stretch as Aspen jumped out to a 52-21 lead. He opened the fourth with another shot from beyond the arc, helping spark a 13-2 run over the next five minutes that gave the Skiers a 39-point advantage.
“It was a great shooting night,” Ketchum said. “He sure looked like a star.”
“I definitely felt like my shot was flowing, and I found myself open a lot,” Papenfus added. “Once we settled in and played our own game … we took over.”
Zack Babich finished with 12 points, Nicky Fuller added 10 and Matthew Holmes nine for the Skiers, who are now setting their sights on postseason play.
“[Finishing 19-0 in the regular season] would be awesome, but it doesn’t really matter,” Papenfus said. “Everyone will only remember the last game we play, how we go out.”
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The Aspen High School girls soccer team fought off a couple of key injuries to finish in a 1-1 draw with visiting Roaring Fork on Thursday night on the AHS turf. Over in New Castle, Basalt girls soccer edged out Coal Ridge for a 1-0 win.