Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Looking at playoff hopes as we enter final weeks
While difficult to believe, the winter sports season is approaching its end. Regular seasons will begin to wrap up over the next couple of weeks for most teams, with postseason and state right around the corner.
With that, let’s take a peek at where teams sit in terms of playoff possibilities.
It’s been a bit of a rough winter for Aspen hockey. The team sits at 3-8-3 overall with four games remaining. AHS is 0-5-2 going back to its last win, which came Jan. 10 over Glenwood Springs.
A trip to the state tournament is still very much possible, however. As of Monday afternoon, the Skiers had an RPI of 23, with 24 teams making the postseason field. A tough schedule is helping the team out in that regard.
Next up, AHS will host Resurrection Christian (1-9-2) on Friday, followed by a home date with Summit (9-4) on Saturday. The final home game is Feb. 14 against Mountain Vista (5-7-3) followed by the regular-season finale Feb. 22 at Glenwood Springs (8-4-1). If Aspen can go 2-2 over these final four games, they might sneak in.
The Roaring Fork game over the weekend was certainly a dud Aspen will want to forget about, but otherwise it’s been a strong season for the team. At 10-5 overall and 4-2 in league play, the Skiers look to be a dark horse contender once we get to district play (i.e., the league tournament). A top-six finish in league, which AHS currently would be, means they get to skip that dreaded play-in game. Gunnison, Coal Ridge and Moffat County all currently have a single league loss and are in the driver’s seat.
The Basalt boys got out of the cellar by beating Cedaredge last week for their first league win. But, at 2-12 overall and 1-5 in league play, the Longhorns won’t be seen as much of a threat come districts. They are in good position to host that district play-in game, which would be fun.
Aspen still has five games to play, while Basalt has four. The regular-season finale for both is Feb. 21 against each other in Aspen.
The Basalt girls continue to ride the roller coaster after back-to-back losses. But at 6-6 overall and 1-4 in league play, it’s still turning out to be one of the best seasons for the program in recent memory. The Longhorns certainly look capable of escaping that district play-in game, but they’ll have to win a game or two over these final weeks. Right now, they’d be the eight seed.
The Aspen girls are 3-9 overall and 0-4 in league play, the only team without a league win. Another Basalt versus Aspen play-in game isn’t out of the equation.
The Longhorns are scheduled to host Rifle on Tuesday night in a girls-only game, while Aspen heads to Hotchkiss on Tuesday in another girls-only game. The AHS boys return to the court Saturday at Moffat County, while the BHS boys are off until hosting Roaring Fork on Friday.
There isn’t much to say here other than, yes, Aspen should be a contender again for both the boys and girls state championships later this month. They’ve finished first or second in pretty much every meet this season, and fans can catch them at home for the only time this winter when the alpine team hosts races Thursday at Aspen Highlands. The nordic team is hosting races Saturday. State is Feb. 27 and 28.
Basalt wrestling will hit the mat a couple more times this week before heading to regionals in Montrose next week. I’d expect at least Ruben Samuelson and Ernesto Lopez to qualify for state. Samuelson, a junior who wrestles at 170 pounds, is undefeated on the season, according to coach Ryan Bradley. The program is in its eighth season since returning, and Samuelson might be having the best season of any Longhorn in that time.
It’s more or less go time for the Aspen girls swim team. They take their small but mighty group to the Western Slope championships later this week before it’s off to the state championships next week in Thornton. The Skiers won the 2017 state championship, the first year 3A had its own classification, but might have trouble reaching that high because of team depth this winter. Then again, the talent isn’t lacking, so you never know. This team, which is incredibly youthful, could win a handful of individual state titles.
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Overall state champions in high school skiing are determined by combining results from Alpine and Nordic. Aspen swept both the boys and girls state titles in 2020, just as they did in 2018. The AHS boys also won the state title in 2019, while the girls finished as the state runner-up.