Hoops: Aspen rolls past Coal Ridge
Aspen, CO Colorado
PALISADE, Colo. – It didn’t take long for Aspen to eliminate virtually all suspense in Friday’s 3A Western Slope League district tournament semifinals.
Scoring 27 of the game’s first 29 points – no, that’s not a typo – the Skiers cruised to a 56-32 win over Coal Ridge at Palisade High School.
Aspen will face Roaring Fork in today’s district title game, at 5:45 p.m.
“We missed a few easy ones to start, and I think it just kind of got in our heads,” Titans coach Paul Harvey said.
Jake Nugent’s 18 points led Aspen, which improved to 17-4. Austin Roark finished with 13 and James Powell scored nine on three 3-pointers.
Skiers coach Steve Ketchum certainly didn’t expect such a lopsided final score. His squad won the teams’ previous two meetings by much slimmer margins (51-45 on Jan. 6 and 60-55 on Jan. 31).
“We had two huge battles with them this year, two really close games,” he said. “The last one, we survived. They led us for 31 minutes, and we took the lead with 60 seconds left. I was expecting something similar to that.”
But stingy defense and high-percentage looks put to rest any chance of a close game early.
“Our defensive intensity at the start of the game was just awesome,” Ketchum said.
Darik Brown led Coal Ridge (9-12) with 11 points. Cody Walls added five for the Titans, who face Rifle in today’s third-place game.
The Skiers will meet a familiar foe in Saturday’s title game. The Rams (15-6) defeated Aspen, 60-55, in last season’s district championship.
“It’ll be another tough battle,” Aspen’s veteran coach said. “They’re so well-coached. It seems like it’s either been us or them at the top of the league the last 10 years. It’s just a great rivalry. Roaring Fork has a great program.”
The Skiers won both meetings between the two teams in the regular season.
At least one Ram was hoping to face Aspen after Roaring Fork’s 47-34 win over Rifle in the night’s earlier semifinal.
“I want to play Aspen,” Trenton Reeds said. “We haven’t been able to beat them yet.”
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