Hoops: Aspen girls fall in Olathe
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
OLATHE, Colo. – The Aspen girls basketball team’s path to the postseason became a little more chaotic after Tuesday night’s loss in Olathe.
It’s a path the team knows well, however.
Aspen, which opened district play with a lopsided home win over Basalt on Monday, hung with the high-powered Pirates one night later before faltering down the stretch and falling, 58-45.
If they are to return to the playoffs, the Skiers must win Thursday’s road showdown with Roaring Fork, then triumph in Saturday’s consolation finals at Palisade High School.
“We’re excited for the opportunity,” Aspen head coach Jeremy Haack said.
The Skiers seized that opportunity during the 2010 season. Aspen won five of its final eight games, culminating with a 40-38, double-overtime district tournament victory over Cedaredge that helped it secure the 3A Western Slope’s fifth and final playoff spot.
The Skiers (10-11) nearly pulled off a shocker Tuesday against an Olathe squad ranked sixth in The Denver Post’s latest 3A poll. Trailing, 31-19, at halftime, Aspen mounted a third-quarter spurt highlighted by stout defense and clutch 3s from Anna Stevens and Annie Graber to pull to within one.
“It was just an incredible effort by the girls,” Haack said. “We handled their full-court defensive pressure just fine and were really aggressive attacking the basket tonight. … It was also a great defensive effort. We went to man-to-man for the entire second half, and that helped spur the offense.”
The Skiers, who dropped the season’s first matchup with the Pirates (18-2) by 49 points, could not keep pace in the fourth quarter, however.
“We had to foul at the end to try and get the ball back, and they hit their free throws down the stretch,” Haack said. “I’m just so proud of how hard they competed tonight against one of the best teams in the state.”
Now, Aspen will square off with one of the best teams in the Slope. Surging Roaring Fork, which finished third in league play with 11 wins in 13 games, had won eight straight before falling to Gunnison, 33-31, in other action Tuesday.
The Rams won both of their regular-
season meetings with the Skiers – 47-40 on Jan. 5, then 60-29 on Feb. 10.
“It will be all about taking care of the ball, not giving up second-chance points and controlling the boards,” Haack said.
“(Tuesday’s game) just shows the kind of passion these girls play with. We need to take all the positives from Olathe and build off of it.”
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.