Prep teams ready to get 2017 rolling
The 2017 prep season gets underway Friday for Aspen and Basalt high schools. That being said, let’s look back on the first month of the winter sports schedule and see where each team stands entering the first weekend of the new year.
The Aspen boys basketball team is off to a 3-2 start under first-year coach Alex Schrempf. It’s been inconsistent, however, with the team alternating wins and losses. The season started with a 74-37 win over Soroco at the Cowboy Shootout in Meeker, before losing to the host Cowboys, 40-33. The tournament ended with a 70-61 win over Rangely.
AHS lost 49-40 at Roaring Fork after that, but finished 2016 with a 58-57 nail biter of a win over Vail Christian in its lone home game so far.
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The 2017 slate gets underway Friday when the Skiers head north to play at Moffat County — travel permitting. The Bulldogs have struggled a bit at 2-6 overall, but have seen plenty of success under coach Eric Hamilton, including a 21-6 season three years ago.
The AHS girls also open 2017 Friday night at Moffat County. The Bulldog girls are 7-1 and were ranked No. 9 in 3A as of the Dec. 19 poll. Aspen is 0-5 and has struggled with a thin roster and injuries.
The Skiers, boys and girls, play at Rangely on Tuesday before hosting Basalt on Thursday.
It was a rough start to the season for the 1-4 Skiers, although a lot of that had to do with a brutal schedule. The season started with a competitive 3-1 loss to current No. 3 Cherry Creek before a surprising 4-0 loss to Battle Mountain (however, the Huskies now are 3-0-1 and ranked No. 10 in the state).
Next came a 4-3 loss at previously ranked Denver East before a 3-0 win at Doherty on Dec. 14 that got the Aspen hockey team in the win column. The 2016 season ended with another competitive loss, this time to defending state champion and current No. 1 Regis Jesuit.
The back half of the schedule starts Friday, when the Skiers host Battle Mountain in a rematch at the Ice Garden beginning at 6:15 p.m. Aspen then plays at Steamboat Springs on Saturday.
The Aspen girls swim team has only had one meet so far, coming just before the holiday break in Summit. The 2017 portion of its season begins Jan. 14, again in Summit. The Skiers are scheduled to host their lone home meet on Jan. 20. The Western Slope League championships are scheduled for Feb. 3-4 at Colorado Mesa University.
Barring any unexpected weather delays, the Aspen High Alpine ski season is set to get underway Friday at Aspen Highlands. The Skier girls are the reigning state champions (combined Alpine and Nordic), with the Alpine team having even more participants than a year ago (the current roster has 26 girls and seven boys).
Friday’s action starts with the first run for the girls at 9:30 a.m., the boys to follow. The second run, which determines placement, starts at 12:45 p.m. The races can be viewed from the base of Highlands near the Thunderbowl lift.
Aspen’s Nordic team will begin its season Saturday at Snow Mountain Ranch, hosted by Middle Park. The Nordic skiers do not have a home meet this season.
The state championships for both Alpine and Nordic are scheduled for Feb. 23-24 at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs.
The Longhorn boys opened the season with a 72-59 loss to Del Norte, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A in the latest CHSAA poll (Dec. 19), but they haven’t lost since. 2016 ended with six straight wins for BHS (6-1 overall), highlighted by winning a small tournament hosted by Montezuma-Cortez. In the championship game, BHS beat Ignacio, No. 9 in 2A, 58-47. Of note was senior Michael Glen surpassing 1,000 career points during the tournament.
Glen has been dominant through seven games, leading the team in points (23.4 per game) and rebounds (12 per game). Junior guard Justin Henderson also averages double figures with 12.3 points per game.
The Longhorns open 2017 on Tuesday when they host valley rival Roaring Fork in a non-league game. The Rams (5-1) will play at Delta Friday to open 3A Western Slope League play. Roaring Fork and Basalt will play again Feb. 3 in Carbondale, that time in a league game.
Basalt was receiving the 12th most votes among 3A teams as of the Dec. 19 poll.
Under first-year coach Kat Fitzpatrick, the Basalt girls are 1-7 overall entering Tuesday’s game against Roaring Fork. Their lone win came in a 72-46 victory over Las Animas on Dec. 3.
Junior Cintia Miramontes leads the BHS girls with 11 points and eight rebounds per game.
The Basalt wrestling team has seen up and down results, with junior heavyweight Oswaldo Morales being one of the strengths. A season highlight so far was beating Cedaredge in a home triangular, one of only two home meets the Longhorns will have this season.
BHS gets 2017 going on Saturday with a difficult tournament, hosted by Eagle Valley. The Longhorns only other home meet will be a dual against Rifle on Jan. 31. The regular season ends with a dual tournament on Feb. 4, before heading to regionals, hosted by Buena Vista.
In non-prep news…
The Aspen Leafs U20 hockey team returns from the holiday break with a two-game home series against the Colorado Rampage beginning at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Ice Arena. The weekend series is a benefit for Aspen Strong.
The Leafs haven’t played since a 5-3 win at Steamboat on Dec. 17. With a 12-9-1 overall record, Aspen continues to hold onto second place in the five-team Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. Pikes Peak holds the top spot at 22-2, while Steamboat is within striking distance of Aspen in third place at 10-12-1.
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