Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Aspen vs Basalt basketball showdown set
Of the big winners this past weekend, the Aspen High School boys basketball team has to be at the top of that list. After starting 0-2 this season, the Skiers won their final two games at the Meeker Cowboy Shootout to get to .500 heading into the first of two games against rival Basalt this winter.
Winning back-to-back games or more is a big deal as its something AHS has only done twice prior in the first two seasons under coach Alex Schrempf. Two seasons ago, the Skiers won four straight (and five out of six) en route to a 9-12 record. Last January, AHS beat Lake County and Moffat County in back-to-back games before finishing 4-16 overall.
So, yes, stringing together a couple of wins early on this winter is a promising development for a program still finding its way since Steve Ketchum left following the 2013-14 season. Aspen’s opener against Rifle on Dec. 4 wasn’t pretty (a 47-31 loss), especially considering the Bears finished 2-21 last winter. However, Rifle is surprisingly 4-0 this season and even won the Cowboy Shootout, so maybe Aspen’s first loss isn’t that bad after all.
Now, the next big step for Aspen (2-2) would be to get by rival Basalt (1-5) at 7 p.m. Wednesday inside the AHS gymnasium. It’s a non-league game — the teams will meet again in a league game in the season finale Feb. 14 in Basalt — but this hardly matters in a rivalry.
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Much like with football, the Basalt boys have simply had Aspen’s number for the past few years. The last time BHS lost to its upvalley rival was during the 2014-15 season, in which Aspen swept the two contests. It’s been six straight wins for the Longhorns in the rivalry since, with the last five being more or less blowouts.
Wednesday could be an ideal time to end that skid for Aspen. Basalt has struggled through its first six games, but it’s also been playing without any reserves to speak of, so the Longhorns are probably better than that record shows. A win Wednesday would be big for either team. On the flip side, a loss will be difficult to sit on over the upcoming holiday break.
AHS HOCKEY OUT OF RANKINGS AGAIN
The only team even fiddling with the CHSAANow.com top 10 so far this winter is the Aspen hockey team, which was No. 9 last week after that season-opening draw with No. 2 Valor Christian.
The newest rankings came out Monday, and Aspen is back on the outside looking in after a relatively rough weekend. After beating Summit in a thriller Wednesday, the Skiers lost to Battle Mountain on Friday and to No. 1 Regis Jesuit on Saturday, dropping to 1-2-1 on the season.
Valor (4-0-1) is back to No. 2 after having dropped to No. 3 last week, while Regis continues to hold down the top spot. Cherry Creek, Monarch and Dakota Ridge round out the top five. Battle Mountain is essentially No. 11, while Aspen is No. 14.
The Skiers head on the road for the first time this weekend with a game Friday at No. 8 Denver East and another Saturday at Doherty. Aspen then closes out the pre-holiday slate with a home game against Steamboat Springs on Dec. 21. The Sailors received the same amount of points as Aspen in this week’s rankings.
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Herman is the freestyle skiing winner of the Summit Daily’s Peak Performers project, which honors the greatest athletes and most influential figures in Summit county ski and snowboard history.