Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Important games remain before the winter break
In a way, the winter high school sports season is a dysfunctional mess because of the holidays. Sure, fall break can interfere early on, and spring break can create problems when the snow begins to melt.
But, only during the winter do you have a sizeable hiatus right in the middle of the season.
And that’s where we are headed. Many teams have only had limited practices — you can thank the Thanksgiving break for much of that — and now will be off until after the New Year.
A couple of teams, such as Basalt boys basketball, are already done with games until January. However, there are a few games still to be played before Santa Claus finds his way down any chimneys, and those contests right before the break can be crucial in the big picture.
Needing to finish this week out on a high note is the Aspen High School boys basketball team. The Skiers, currently 2-4 overall, have played well as of late, but that doesn’t always result in wins. After beating Dolores and Soroco on back-to-back days, AHS lost that thriller to Basalt and fell by 13 to Vail Christian last week.
Tuesday night, the Skiers will play at Middle Park (3-2) and Friday they travel to Telluride (4-0). While neither is a league game, they do count toward that overall record. Lose both, and a 2-6 record could be tough to overcome after the holidays. Win both, and AHS would probably feel pretty good at 4-4 with league play waiting on the other side.
Both games this week are boys only. The AHS girls are already done playing until after the New Year. The Basalt girls, who recently got their first win of the season, will play Thursday at Battle Mountain before going on break.
Now, the game of the week will undoubtedly come Friday when Aspen hockey hosts league rival Steamboat Springs at 7:45 p.m. inside Lewis Ice Arena. Only 1-3-2 overall, how good Aspen really is remains somewhat of a mystery. Their record is as much a byproduct of a brutal schedule as anything: two of the three losses came against the teams currently ranked No. 1 and No. 8, while one of the ties came against the team currently ranked No. 3.
The Sailors are 2-4-0, having most recently lost 3-2 at Glenwood Springs. The only mutual opponent Aspen and SSHS have had so far this season is Summit, which both teams beat (Aspen won 6-5, while Steamboat won 5-2).
Friday’s game is a critical one in the Peak Conference. As of Monday night, Steamboat, Crested Butte and Battle Mountain were pretty much neck-and-neck for the lead league, with Glenwood and Aspen not far behind. Summit brings up the rear. At this juncture, the conference really is wide open and the winner of Friday’s game will have a serious leg up on things.
Note: This will be my final Prep Playbook column until after the New Year. Happy holidays.
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Aspen is set to add to its Olympic heritage next month as three local athletes head to the Beijing Games. Halfpipe skiers Alex Ferreira and Hanna Faulhaber, as well as cross-country skier Hailey Swirbul, will head over soon, but before that a send-off party is set for Wednesday.