Aspen girls drop rival Basalt, keep state hoops hopes alive
BASALT – With a defender draped all over her on the baseline, Lindsey Anderson somehow managed to fling a shot toward the rim. The ball bounced three times on the cylinder before finally falling. With it, the Aspen girls basketball team’s recent skid against Basalt fell, too. Anderson’s acrobatic bucket highlighted a 13-4 Skiers run in the final three-plus minutes of the third quarter that broke Thursday’s district tournament elimination game wide open. Aspen, which led by six at the half, took a 48-31 lead into the final quarter and cruised to a convincing 59-41 win – their first in three tries against their downvalley rivals this season.Cross two goals off Aspen’s preseason checklist. With the victory, the Skiers earned a trip to Palisade High School where, at 9 a.m. Saturday, they will battle Cedaredge for the 3A Western Slope’s fifth and final state qualifying spot.”To win with so much at stake [is gratifying],” Anderson said.”We wanted it more,” teammate Georgia Lipkin added.The Skiers (7-14) sure played like it. Lipkin nailed two 3’s and Jonelle Berklund converted a jumper in the corner as Aspen pulled ahead, 8-2, in the game’s first four minutes. Lipkin scored all 14 of her points in the first half. “They were knocking down 3’s, and we couldn’t figure out how to stop them,” Basalt coach Dane LeBlanc said. “They moved the ball well … and we just couldn’t catch up.”Jamie Matherly picked off a pass and scored in transition in the opening moments of the third quarter to cut the Longhorns’ deficit to just four. The Skiers had an answer, however.Bailey Everhart scored on a strong cut in the lane, then hit two free throws, and Jonelle Berklund picked off a lazy pass and finished to give Aspen a 10-point cushion with 41⁄2 minutes remaining in the third. Berklund scored six more points in the quarter, including four straight in the final minute to stretch the lead to 48-31. The sophomore finished with 12.”We’re playing great basketball right now,” said Aspen coach Jeremy Haack, who will take the Skiers to Palisade for the first time in his four years. “We’re getting better as the season has gone along. … For our seniors to get an opportunity like tonight, with this being the last time they’ll play Basalt, you couldn’t have scripted this.”This was the biggest game for every single one of us.”Basalt (6-14), which was hindered by foul trouble – notably to team leader Nicole Booth – scored just four points in the quarter’s final four minutes.The Longhorns, who opened Slope play with four straight wins but closed with six straight losses, could pull no closer than 16 in the final quarter.”I really can’t put my finger on it,” a perplexed LeBlanc said of his team’s recent struggles. “This is a rough way to go.”Booth could do little to hide her disappointment when, after fouling out with 1:24 remaining in the game, she buried her head into the shoulder of fellow senior Ashley Soucie.Little more than a minute later, about 50 feet away, Anderson was mobbed by giddy teammates after being taken out of the game. Aspen has won four of its last seven following a seven-game losing streak. “We’ve ended our season here two other times before and were blown out. We weren’t going to be done this time,” added Anderson, who finished with 17 points. “We surprised some people.”Do the Skiers have at least more surprise in store come Saturday? Anderson and Lipkin answered without hesitation.”Oh yeah,” they email@example.com
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