Season ends for Aspen boys basketball with playoff loss to Cedaredge

Aspen High basktball vs. Cedaredge from Monday, Feb. 19, 2018.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times |

When the Cedaredge High School boys basketball team came to Aspen on Feb. 10, the Skiers outworked them en route to a 44-30 win. In Monday’s rematch, the Bruins knew they had to bring a different level of intensity or face a similar result.

“The Aspen team, they just hustled. They were making every hustle play and we weren’t,” Cedaredge coach Craig Cerise said of the first game. “We had a hard time making shots. I don’t know if we had a hangover from the Friday game. All we talked about yesterday and today was we can’t be out hustled.”

The message was clearly delivered as No. 9 seed Cedaredge held on for a 55-47 win over No. 9 Aspen on Monday in the pigtail round of the Class 3A Western Slope League district tournament. The win sends the Bruins into Tuesday’s quarterfinals, where they will face top seed Coal Ridge.

Aspen finishes its second season under coach Alex Schrempf with a 4-16 overall record after going 9-12 a year ago.

“They were resilient all season. They stayed together and I was very proud of that,” Schrempf said. “They are learning what it means to put the work in, to get closer to that 10,000 hours of mastery, because it takes time. That’s all it is.”

Monday’s contest was a clinic in hustle plays. Both teams pushed the ball up and down the court, sacrificing bodies in order to make a play. While Cedaredge came with more energy than in its 14-point loss and got the win, it didn’t mean Aspen had any less.

“Just barely,” Cerise said of trying to stay a step ahead of the Skiers. “They would just get right back with a shot and even it out again.”

The game was a coin flip from the start. Cedaredge led 12-11 after a quarter and 21-20 at halftime after a late 3-pointer pushed the Bruins back in front.

The back-and-forth affair continued into the third quarter. Cedaredge built a 29-24 lead late in the period, but a quick 5-0 spurt that included a Noah Hollander 3-pointer gave the Skiers the lead. A tip-in at the buzzer allowed Cedaredge to take a 34-32 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We had a couple lapses. We allowed them a couple offensive boards that turned into some points,” Schrempf said. “I think they were a little bit more prepared and they definitely play toward their bigs way more effectively than they did last time.”

With Ben Appleby and Dillon Leasure, two of Aspen’s tallest players, unable to suit up, Cedaredge had a small size advantage on the Skiers. Still, Aspen was able to penetrate with its speed and had every opportunity to win down the stretch.

Aspen trailed 41-40 with less than four minutes to play before AHS turnovers and Cedaredge free throws allowed the Bruins to slowly pull away over the final few minutes.

“I was happy that they fought hard until the end and they played together,” Schrempf said. “We had this whole year where there was the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type of basketball. Some days we had this great group that played cohesively against anybody or we have this group that goes out there and really falls flat. I was proud we were able to put it consistently together for a few games.”

AHS, Basalt girls fall

Also Monday, the Aspen High School girls basketball team saw its season come to an end with a 49-23 loss at Coal Ridge in their district pigtail game. AHS finishes the season 1-19 overall.

The Basalt High School girls basketball team lost 44-36 on Monday at Olathe to finish the season 5-15 overall.

Still alive is the Basalt boys basketball team, which as the No. 5 seed in the WSL had a Monday bye. The Longhorns will play Tuesday evening at No. 4 seed Grand Valley in the district quarterfinals.