Coming together under the Skier Dome

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN For a lazy night in July, this sure felt a lot like February or March. Wednesday evening at Aspen High School, some of the best basketball players from around the Western Slope squared off in front of a crowd nearly as large as those at most Skiers varsity games. Strangely, though there was no playoff spot on the line, no league title at stake, no trophy when the final buzzer sounded, both teams played with a tenacity reminiscent of a midwinter rivalry game. Even stranger, everyone on the floor wore either a white or black Skiers jersey. This wasnt necessarily that strange when considering that the white jerseys differentiated the players on the home team from their opponents in black. One look at the roster, however, and it was impossible not to notice that Skiers rivals Roaring Fork Rams and Coal Ridge Titans among them were all wearing either white or black jerseys with Aspen draped across the chest. No, this wasnt some practical joke, just the Aspen Basketball Academys All-Star game an annual matchup known for familiar rivalries and unlikely allegiances. The latter point couldnt be underlined any better than to note that Mike Green, Basalts former varsity coach, was in charge of the home team in white, which featured four starters from rival Aspens varsity team last season and two from Coal Ridge. On the other bench, in black, were Roaring Fork standouts Torrey Udall and Walker Abrahamovich. Both Rams teamed with players and coaches from Front Range schools such as Ranum, Pueblo Centennial and Frontier Academy. With rising Skiers senior Cory Parker, a 3A all-state selection last season, and Andre Linzy, a Division I prospect from Desoto High School in Kansas City, Mo., Greens white team pulled out a 78-70 win in a game that was at times sloppy but rarely dull. This was a good chance for all of us to get to know each other better and just hang and be friends, said Parker, who matched Linzy for a game-high 13 points. During the season, its different, because were opponents and were going against each other, but right now its a chance for us to get to know each other. Ive always liked Mike Green, Ive always respected him, and I know hes a great coach, and hes done a lot for me, and its just fun to work for each other. Udall echoed Parkers sentiments but did point out that wearing an Aspen jersey was a bit strange. Its fun to play with these guys, and its fun that they offer this opportunity, the senior said. Its awesome to play in the summer ball against kids that are coming from all the way out of state, and then to play against kids like Cory Parker here in Aspen, its a great opportunity, and its fun to build off that. Its been a good week. Parker set the tone in the first quarter, opening with an early 3-pointer before settling in on the low block. He forced Abrahamovich into two early fouls, and drained all four of his free throws. He also hit a clutch jumper at the buzzer, giving his team a 22-21 lead. Abrahamovich made up for the fouls with two 3-pointers. Udalls night didnt start as smoothly: He missed his first three free-throws and missed easy shots underneath the basket. A 12-2 run to close the second quarter, capped by a 3-point buzzer-beater from Linzy, put the white team up 47-34 at the break. The white team extended its lead in the third quarter, going up 67-46 before the black teams Aaron Prince a New York product drained a 3-pointer to give his team a spark. Down 65-51 entering the fourth, the black team went on a frantic 19-11 run to cut the lead to as much as six, but the white team didnt let it get any closer. Aspen senior Michael Taylor sealed the win for the white with a huge fast-break dunk off an assist from Coal Ridges Skyler James with less than 20 seconds remaining. Udall was instrumental in the black teams run, adding six second-half points to finish with 10. Prince finished as the away teams leading scorer, with 11, and Ranums Vince Elicerio added 10. Its kind of hard playing with kids that you havent really sat down with and run plays with, and it took me a while to get into the game, just because weve been playing a lot of basketball this week, Udall said. Its fun to work through it with these kids, and play new offenses and struggle a little bit.Nate Petersons e-mail is