Peach Valley stunner: Titans top Aspen |

Peach Valley stunner: Titans top Aspen

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

PEACH VALLEY, Colo. ” Alex Klein thought he heard his teammates counting down the final seconds of the first half, so he flung a shot from half court. One problem: There were still five seconds showing on the clock.

The misunderstanding turned out to be a good thing for Coal Ridge’s 6-foot-9-inch center, as his long-range bomb kissed off the backboard glass and dropped through the net.

It was a fitting ending to a near-perfect frame for Klein and his boys basketball teammates, who outscored visiting Aspen 24-1 in the second quarter and went on to defeat the previously undefeated Skiers, 64-43, on Saturday.

“I thought I heard my bench yelling two … one,” Klein said. “I looked up at the clock and I was kind of mad.”

Klein didn’t stew long over the misunderstanding, happily heading into the locker room fresh off an unreal quarter in which the Titans forced eight Aspen turnovers and held the Skiers to just a Matthew Holmes free throw.

Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey credited a switch to strictly zone defense with spearheading the charge.

“We were in our normal switching defense in the first quarter, just to make them think we were doing the same thing,” said the first-year Titans coach, whose team trailed 16-14 after one. “Then we went to zone the rest of the way. They’re so big. It’s hard for us to match up with those big guys. I wanted to get through that first quarter even.”

The gamesmanship paid off. Coal Ridge scored four unanswered points to start the second quarter before Holmes hit his free throw. Then, in front of a big home crowd that rabidly cheered every Aspen turnover and every bucket by their Titans, Coal Ridge went on to close out the half on a 20-0 run to take a 38-17 lead into the break.

Klein keyed the surge, scoring nine of his 14 points in the quarter. Adam Miller and Nathan Terrin chipped in with big 3-pointers.

“If I had to do it all over again, I’d just say we’ll forfeit the second quarter,” Skiers coach Steve Ketchum quipped. “We’ll give it to you, 10-0, so that we could win the ball game at the end. That didn’t happen ” 24-1 is pretty much to the point of insurmountable.”

Pressing vigorously in the second half, Aspen shrunk the deficit to as little as 10 points in the fourth quarter, but the Titans closed the game on an 11-0 run to polish off an upset of the Skiers, ranked second in Class 3A by RockyPreps.

“We knew that they were the ones who had something to lose,” said Coal Ridge guard Andy Smedra, who finished with seven points, five rebounds and five assists. “We just came out there to play. We keep improving, playing better and better.”

Eric Schmitz led the Titans, now 13-2 overall and 10-2 and one game back of Aspen in the 3A Western Slope, with 16 points. Miller added 11 points and Jonathon Roessler had eight.

Klein added 12 rebounds and four blocks to go along with his 14 points.

“Alex had an awesome game,” Smedra said. “He dominated.”

Walker Abrahamovich led Aspen (14-1 overall, 11-1 conference) with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Andrew Papenfus added 12 points and Holmes finished with eight.

Both Coal Ridge and Aspen have four league games remaining on the schedule.

The Titans travel to Olathe and host Cedaredge next weekend before closing out the season with a trip to Basalt and home game against Roaring Fork the following weekend.

Aspen is at Basalt on Tuesday and at home against Grand Valley on Friday before closing out the regular season against Roaring Fork and Cedaredge the following weekend.

The Coal ridge girls held Aspen to no points in the third quarter and smothered the Skiers, 56-22, on Saturday.

A balanced scoring effort buoyed the Titans, who were led by Tori Verdieck, Kaitlin Moeller and Kelly Romero with 10 points apiece. Morgan Jessup added eight points.

But offense isn’t what ruled the day for Coal Ridge.

“That was the best defense we’ve played all season,” Titans coach Rick Schmitz said.

Coal Ridge surrendered no more than nine points in any quarter and forced 30 Aspen turnovers.

“I think our defense got us started,” Verdieck said. “Our offense comes with it.”

The Titans led 31-16 at halftime before putting the game away in that fateful third quarter, outscoring the Skiers 14-0 in the frame.

“Coal Ridge’s a great team,” Aspen coach Jeremy Haack said. “We’ve got to take advantage of our opportunities. We missed some easy shots in the paint.”

The Titans improved to 11-4 overall and to 9-3 in the Western Slope. They sit a game back of league-leading Olathe (12-4, 11-2) in the loss column.

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