Hoops: Aspen outlasts Titans
Aspen, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY, Colo. – Sick of losing, Jake Nugent and his Aspen basketball teammates did something about it.
Scoring 12 unanswered points in overtime, the Skiers gutted out a 56-44 win at Coal Ridge on Tuesday.
“I don’t know,” Nugent said. “We’ve been down so many times and we just didn’t want to lose again. That adrenaline just kind of kicked in.”
After watching a 27-14 halftime lead completely slip away, Aspen needed every ounce of adrenaline to grit out the win.
Holding the Skiers to just seven points in the third quarter, the Titans whittled their deficit to 34-25 entering the fourth.
With buckets by Mike Schwartz flanking a Quinn Morehead 3-pointer, Aspen scored the first seven points of the final frame to take a 41-25 lead.
That’s about when Coal Ridge shifted its press into high gear. With that stifling full-court pressure yielding turnovers and easy buckets, the Titans scored 19 of the game’s next 22 points to knot things up at 44.
“We always know that our press might not pay dividends right away, but we rarely lose a fourth quarter because of the press,” Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey said. “Sometimes the guys, when we get in the fourth quarter, play a lot harder. I wish we could do it for a full 32 minutes.”
The Titans did much of their damage in that fourth quarter at the foul line, connecting at a 9-for-10 clip.
Aspen’s prospects worsened when big man Bridger Dawson fouled out with 2 minutes, 31 seconds left in regulation. The 6-foot-9 senior had already taken a seat for a long stretch of the second half.
But Coal Ridge failed to take advantage.
After a Darik Brown dish set teammate Nathan Terrin up with an easy layup to tie the game at 44 with inside a minute to play, the Titans didn’t score another point.
“Maybe mentally they let up when Bridger fouled out and thought we had it,” Harvey said. “I don’t know. We’ve got to complete the game, finish the task. We spent a lot of energy to get back into it. It’s a bummer we didn’t complete it.”
Nugent got the Skiers rolling in the four-minute overtime period, banking home a layup with 3:25 left. Then came a three-point play by Clayton Crawford to make it 49-44.
The baskets kept coming as Aspen avenged a 42-35 loss to Coal Ridge back on Jan. 7. And though the basketball loss still loomed in the Skiers’ minds, so did a fall football setback.
“We kind of wanted to beat them because they beat us back in football,” Nugent said. “We kind of wanted to get some payback.”
Nugent’s 11 points and 12 rebounds certainly helped Aspen exact that revenge. Before exiting, Dawson racked up 12 points and 10 boards.
Morehead, who connected on a pair of triples, finished with 12 points as well. Schwartz added nine points and Crawford had eight for the Skiers (8-7 overall, 5-4 in the 3A Western Slope).
Terrin led the Titans (9-6, 6-3) with 16 points.
The Aspen girls hung with Coal Ridge for a half.
But, after heading into the break down 32-29, a second half of stingy defense and easy baskets did in the Skiers, who suffered a 62-41 loss in Peach Valley on Tuesday.
“Our defense dictates how well we play offensively,” Titans coach Rick Schmitz said. “If we’re moving on defense, we’re moving at the offensive end, and we finally did that [in the second half].”
Chasity Gonzales hit a trio of 3-pointers and scored a team-high 17 points for the Titans, who outscored Aspen 30-12 in the second half. Paige Ryan finished with 14 points, Ciara Chacon eight and Carly Cloninger seven as Coal Ridge upped its record to 11-4 overall and to 7-2 in the 3A WS.
“We gave up too much dribble penetration,” Skiers coach Jeremy Haack said. “We gave up way too much dribble penetration. We tried some different things defensively to slow down [Ryan] and slow down the rest of the team, but we felt like we gave up too many points in the paint.”
Bailey Everhart led Aspen (3-11, 2-7) with 13 points. Jonelle Berklund added 11.
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