Hoops: Aspen boys hold off rival Basalt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Aspen’s Mike Schwartz stopped short of calling Tuesday night’s game a setback.
“It’s more like a wake-up call,” the senior said. “It’s still a win … but we need to get it together.”
The Skiers closed the second quarter with a flurry to take a 14-point halftime lead against visiting rival Basalt. They struggled from there, however, scoring just 13 second-half points – 10 of which came from Schwartz.
The Longhorns could not take advantage, however. They struggled all night to penetrate the Aspen zone and squandered scoring chances with untimely turnovers in a 39-27 loss – their fourth straight to close out the regular season.
They have scored just 60 points in their last two games.
“We were offensively limited. We shot 11 3’s in the first half, and I think we made two,” Basalt head Jon Pettit said. “I think we got to as close as [three in the second quarter], but when you get to that point you really have to focus. We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot.”
Longhorns junior J.R. Krueger nailed a short jumper in the opening minutes of the second quarter, trimming his team’s deficit to just three. The momentum did not last.
Quinn Morehead, who paced the Skiers with 23 in Friday’s double-overtime win over Roaring Fork, answered right back with a 3 from the wing. Bridger Dawson, held scoreless against the Rams, followed with back-to-back baskets to stretch the home team’s lead to 11 with little more than 3 minutes remaining in the opening half.
Aspen closed out the second with an 11-0 spurt. Five of those points came courtesy of three consecutive Basalt turnovers near midcourt.
“Our defense was solid,” Schwartz said. “It’s always solid because of how hard we play. Our offense just wasn’t clicking.”
The Skiers (11-7 overall, 8-4 3A Western Slope) produced just two field goals in the third quarter – both were lay-ups in transition from Schwartz. Still, the Longhorns trimmed just three points off a
14-point halftime deficit.
Schwartz continued to lead the way for Aspen during a decidedly sluggish fourth quarter by both teams.
“The game plan was to get to the hole, get the ball to the bigs and score. I think we were settling for a lot of 3’s,” he said. “I just wanted to play physical and play hard – I took it upon myself. [My teammates] were looking for me inside because I usually had a mismatch. There was usually a guard on me.”
Schwartz twice shook free for baskets in the paint in the fourth quarter. With 2:37 remaining and his team clinging to a seven-point advantage, he calmly sank two free throws, sparking a 5-0, game-ending run to help the Skiers clinch their fifth consecutive win and a season-series sweep of Basalt.
Schwartz led all scorers with 14 points. Dawson and Morehead each pitched in with 11.
Aspen closes out the regular season at 7 p.m. Thursday, when it hosts Rifle.
The Longhorns (5-14, 2-11) open district-tournament play Monday. Matchups will not be determined until this weekend.
“I told them its win or go home,” Pettit said. “The younger guys need to decide where they want this program to be.”
Once again, the Longhorns were too much for their upvalley rivals to handle.
Basalt, a 15-point winner against the Skiers on Jan. 21, utilized its size advantage inside to control the boards Tuesday night. The Longhorns closed the second half with an 11-4 spurt to take an eight point halftime lead, then pulled away in the fourth quarter en route to a 51-36 victory.
“[Rebounding] was our main goal coming in,” Basalt head coach Lauren Redfern said. “It was a great effort.”
Jamie Matherly hit a 3 and a mid-range jumper and Stephanie Alvarado scored underneath, sparking a late second-quarter run that helped the Longhorns seize control of this game.
Aspen (5-13, 3-9) kept things close in the third, largely because of the play of senior Bailey Everhart. The junior, who finished with 16 points, converted a free throw with 2:52 remaining in the quarter, pulling the Skiers to within five at 32-27.
Basalt’s Carina Capobianco made Aspen pay for a turnover soon after, however, spotting up for and nailing a 3 from the top of the key. After two free throws from Everhart, guard Nancy Hernandez pulled down an offensive rebound and scored at the buzzer, giving the Longhorns a 37-29 advantage.
“We missed some key blockouts. There were too many second-chance points,” Skiers head coach Jeremy Haack said. “Obviously, everyone is upset. … I’m disappointed for the girls. They really wanted this one.”
Basalt sophomore Emmalee Erickson scored on consecutive possessions to open the fourth quarter, effectively putting this game out of reach. Alvarado finished with 14 and Matherly and Julia Kapustka each added nine for the Longhorns, who improved to 6-11 overall and 4-9 in Slope play.
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