Boys basketball: Brush blocks Aspen in regional final
The Aspen Times
The end of the road is in Brush.
The Aspen High School boys basketball team ran out of road and ran out of time Saturday afternoon, falling 60-43 to the Brush Beetdiggers in the Class 3A Regional championship game.
The Skiers, who had beaten Florence 58-50 on Friday night in the regional semifinals at Brush, closed the season with a 19-5 record, a trip to the sweet 16 and a regular-season championship in the Western Slope League.
The Beetdiggers, playing before their home fans, slowed Aspen’s offense with a pressing defense and a deep bench.
“We got beat by a better team,” Aspen head coach Steve Ketchum said. “They were very, very talented. And they played all 10 kids.”
He said the Skiers got off to a good start when Evan Patzoldt drilled two long 3-pointers early.
From an 8-5 lead, the Skiers found trouble against the pressure Brush defense.
“We had a boat load of turnovers … I bet we had 15 turnovers in the first half,” Ketchum said. “And they resulted in layups.
The Beetdiggers, limiting Aspen to only seven points in the second period, led 27-20 at halftime.
They extended the lead to
44-33 entering the fourth quarter.
Brush, the third-place finisher at state last year, had seven seniors on the roster.
“But our kids battled and battled. I was so proud of them,” Ketchum said. “It was sad in the locker room. There were a lot of tears shed,” Ketchum said after the Skiers’ loss in the sweet 16 — one game short of the elite eight at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs.
Ketchum cleared the Aspen bench in the final minutes, giving every player a chance to play in the regional championships.
Senior Clayton Crawford led Aspen with 13 points in the physical game.
Fellow senior Trent Lichtenwalter added nine. He was whistled for three fouls in the first half. And he picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter.
“So he played the rest of the way with four fouls,” Ketchum said.
Patzoldt scored nine — all in the first half before he attacted the attention of the aggressive Brush defense.
Levi Wright added four points for Aspen.
“You look back on the season … to go 15-1 and win the league, that’s quite an accomplishment,” Ketchum said. “It really was a great year. I was really proud of the senior leadership we had this year — Clayton, Trent and JJ Ready were our senior captains.”
Aspen shot only six foul shots in the game; Brush shot 18.
“To get 19 wins with this group and win the league title at 15-1,it was a great year,” Ketchum said. “We were just a few points short of reaching the ultimate goal. I have not complaints.”
The senior-laden Beetdiggers (20-5) will advance to the elite eight of Class 3A basketball again this season.
Play in the state quarterfinals will begin Thursday.
The state tournament will continue through Friday with the consolation, third-place and state championship games next Saturday.
In other Class 3A regional finals involving boys teams from the Western Slope League, Moffat County earned a trip to the elite eight with an 84-72 victory over Bishop Machebeuf in Saturday’s regional final at Craig.
Moffat County (20-4), with two wins over Aspen this year, will move on to the state quarterfinals.
Grand Valley lost 62-19 at Colorado Springs Christian on Saturday afternoon.
Colorado Springs Christian will take a 21-3 record to the state tournament this week.
Grand Valley fell behind 14-2 before trailing 31-8 at halftime.
In other regional finals, No. 1 overall seed Jefferson Academy was upset by Manitou Springs 36-35. Manitou Springs will go to state at 14-10; Jefferson Academy ended the year 20-4.
Denver Science (19-5) advanced with a regional final victory over St. Mary’s 85-79.
Also, Faith Christian (16-8) will move on after edging Alamosa 45-44 on Saturday.
Holy Family (22-2) moved on with a
55-32 win over the Centauri boys.
Colorado Academy (22-2) earned the final berth at state with a regional final win over Platte Valley.
In Class 3A girls basketball, Moffat County was stopped by Machebeuf in overtime 54-48 on Saturday afternoon in the regional final at Craig.
Moffat County forced overtime at 40-40 on a late 3-pointer by Leah Camilletti.
But Machebeuf (16-8) surged in overtime for the six-point victory.
Olathe fell in the regional final at Peak to Peak 49-38. Peak to Peak (19-5) advances to the elite eight.
The Grand Valley girls also lost in the regional final, falling 42-37 at Manitou Springs (18-6).
The unbeaten Pagosa Springs girls (23-0) beat Trinidad 57-25 to advance to state.
Lamar (23-1) also advanced to the Air Force Academy with a 34-32 victory over the Brush girls.
Holy Family (23-1) ended the season for the Cedaredge girls 62-43 on Saturday.
Eaton (19-5) also advanced to the elite eight. The Eaton girls knocked off Bennett 83-49 on Saturday afternoon.
Sterling (21-3) also moved on with a
50-33 win over the St. Mary’s girls.
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Once the Aspen High School defense woke up — random 4 p.m. kickoffs need some getting used to — the Skiers were able to dictate Saturday’s football game en route to a 22-7 victory over visiting Steamboat Springs on the AHS turf.