Moffat County boys basketball ends Aspen’s win streak
The Aspen Times
The leaders of the Western Slope League in boys basketball clashed Tuesday night in a midweek showdown in Craig.
The battle, billed as the Class 3A statewide game of the week by coloradopreps.com, featured two state-ranked teams: No. 4 Aspen against No. 8 Moffat County.
And the game lived up to its billing as it came down to the last play and a half-court 3-pointer from the Skiers that bounced away, giving the Moffat County boys a tense 61-59 victory.
The Skiers, who fell behind by 12 points in the third quarter, stormed back in the fourth quarter when they outscored Moffat County 20-10.
A putback basket by Aspen senior and an inside basket from teammate Evan Patzoldt erased the Bulldogs’ lead and tied the game 55-55 with 2:30 to play.
Aspen, in fact, took a 57-56 lead on a basket from Trent Lichtenwalter after a Bulldogs’ foul shot.
But it would be the last lead for Aspen as Moffat County sophomore Kort Hathhorn hit two free throws (two of his game-high 28 points) with 2:11 to play, putting the Bulldogs ahead for good.
But after Moffat County went up 60-57 on a basket by 6-7 sophomore Javen Gumber, the Skiers clawed back within a point on another basket by Lichtenwalter.
Hatthorn added a key steal and a foul shot with less than a minute left, giving the Skiers only a desperation half-courter at the buzzer that drew iron and glass but bounced away.
Aspen’s 11-game winning streak ended as the Skiers moved to 13-3 overall, 12-1 in the Western Slope League.
Moffat County improved to 12-2 and 10-1 in conference.
Crawford led Aspen’s scorers with 23 points. Patzoldt added 18 points.
Lichtenwalter scored nine.
Moffat County broke open an otherwise close game with a 14-2 run to open the third quarter, leading to a 43-30 lead with 4:07 to play in the third quarter.
Aspen cut into the lead in the fourth quarter, helped by a conventional 3-point play by Dominick Alcorta and a long 3-pointer from Crawford.
Moffat County had used a late second-quarter run to take a one-point halftime lead at 29-28.
The Bulldogs had led by five until Crawford and Alcorta hit back-to-back 3-pointers for the Skiers. Crawford also had a first-half dunk for Aspen.
Levi Wright’s jumper offset baskets from Moffat County’s Matthew Hamilton and Tyler Davis for the one-point halftime difference.
The Skiers stayed within a point despite a miserable shooting performance from the free-throw line in the first half, when they missed 8 of 10 free throws.
Aspen started off hot from the field, hitting three 3-pointers in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the game and four in the first quarter.. Alcorta’s 3-pointer put the Skiers ahead 11-9 late in the first quarter.
But Moffat County’s Denton Taylor tipped in a basket to pull the Bulldogs even at 11-11.
Evan Patzoldt of the Skiers drained his second 3-pointer of the opening quarter to push the Skiers to their 14-11 lead as play entered the second quarter.
When the two teams met earlier this season, a late Aspen surge fueled a 66-53 win for the Skiers in Aspen, who were led by 27 points from Lichtenwalter.
Aspen will return home to host Olathe on Friday and Basalt on Saturday.
In girls basketball on Tuesday night in Craig, Moffat County rolled past the winless Aspen girls 63-16.
Moffat County improved to 10-4 overall, 8-3 in the Western Slope League. The Aspen girls are 0-15, 0-12 in league.
Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Aspen’s John Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him. He eventually finished runner-up in the iconic race.
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