Aspen girls show power of five in final regular-season game
ASPEN – The power of five, not four.
Five Aspen High School seniors played their final basketball game in their home gym Friday night.
The Western Slope League game against Gunnison offered the Aspen seniors the opportunity to showcase the “power of five.”
Trailing by 27 points with less than a minute and a half to play, Aspen senior Anna Stevens went sprawling across the floor, picking up floor burns and a steal.
Seconds later, teammate Maggie Ryan went to the floor and knocked away the basketball for another steal.
Then Stevens, a four-year starter for the Skiers, scrambled for yet another steal.
“That’s the way you have to play,” Stevens said after the Skiers lost 39-17 to visiting Gunnison.
“We try to come out every game and play our hardest,” said Stevens, the daughter of Sarah and Brian Stevens. “This is a really special group of girls.”
Senior teammate Ryan said it’s a matter of pride.
“It’s a pride thing. You don’t go out there and play for yourself. You go out to play for your teammates and your coach,” said Ryan, the daughter of Chris and Donnie Ryan. “You play for each other.”
Toteh Hopper, one of the five Aspen seniors, agreed.
“I definitely went out there and played hard,” said Hopper, the daughter of Anna and Sean Hopper.
“I love my team. They are like a family.”
Annabelle Wilcox said the Aspen girls enjoy working together.
“There’s no one else I’d rather be on the court with,” said Wilcox, the daughter of John and Juliet Wilcox.
“I think we have something really special,” said senior Kaitlyn Sorenson-Black, the daughter of Tami and Rocky Black. “Really special.”
The Skiers finished the regular season 2-17, 1-15 in the Western Slope League. They await a possible assignment in the league tournament next week.
Gunnison, behind an impressive double-double by senior Jordan Wallin (19 points and 10 rebounds), improved to 3-15, 3-12 in conference.
The Skiers started fast, staying even with the Cowboys up to 10-10.
But then Gunnison launched a 14-0 run when the Aspen girls went cold.
“We had so many open looks. But for whatever reason, the ball just didn’t fall (Friday night),” Aspen head coach Jeremy Haack said.
“But I loved our girls effort.”
He said that effort has been a trademark of the Skiers all season.
“They played hard like they do every single game. This group has not quit all year long,” Haack said.
“I’m proud of our five seniors. They are tremendous leaders, tremendous kids,” he said.
“This group is never going to forget their teammates.”
Or the power of five.
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Like most high school sports programs across the nation right now, Garfield County athletics directors are seeing fewer applicants for open coaching positions. Five years ago vacant positions were filled within just a couple of days.