Skiers girls win again, stay perfect |

Skiers girls win again, stay perfect

ASPEN Saddled with her fourth foul, Aspen senior Julia Hassall was relegated to the bench Saturday for more than three minutes at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter. During that span, her Skiers teammates on the basketball court didn’t score against 2A West Grand. When Mustangs forward Renea Ellison scored in transition to cut Aspen’s lead to four, Skiers coach Jeremy Haack had no choice but to send his star to the scorer’s table.The move paid off. In Hassall’s first minute back on the floor, Aspen reeled off eight consecutive points – a jumper from junior Kylie Westerlind and two 3-pointers from senior Grace Seigle – to pull ahead, 36-24. Aspen scored just twice in the final five minutes but managed to withstand a late West Grand run. While their performance was hardly flawless – they missed 33 of their 48 shots – the Skiers managed to stay perfect. They escaped with a 38-34 win, their second in as many nights. Aspen didn’t record its second win last season until Feb. 9, a span of 15 games.”She does open things up for other players. She’s our floor leader,” Haack said of Hassall. “We played smart in the end. We had two girls with four fouls, but we didn’t foul down the stretch. If we play smart, we always have a chance to win.”Hassall and Westerlind were the lone bright spots on an otherwise off shooting night for the Skiers, who shot just 31 percent from the floor and 33 percent from the free throw line. They scored 13 of the team’s 15 first-half points and Aspen took a 2-point lead into halftime. The duo combined for a 13-2 Skiers run during a three-minute span in the third quarter to give their team some breathing room at 28-19. They hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to go up five, then Hassall opted to pressure the Mustangs in the paint; she scored in transition, then sank a 10-footer from the corner seconds before picking up her fourth foul. Hassall and Westerlind scored all of the team’s third-quarter points and combined for 28. A night after she reached that total on her own in a victory over 4A Eagle Valley, Hassall led all scorers with 15.”After our talk at halftime, everyone had a lot more energy,” Hassall said. “We were motivated to do better out there.”That energy showed until Hassall was forced to leave the game. During that span, her teammates took care of the basketball, but couldn’t generate any offense. West Grand took advantage and pulled to within four in her absence.The Mustangs proved resilient again, midway through the fourth, when they faced a 36-24 deficit with 4:43 to play. They strung together an 8-2 run in 2:20 to cut the lead to 38-34. Because of her foul trouble, Hassall, the back row of the 1-3-1 Aspen press, could not contest two plays during the stretch in which West Grand beat the press with passes over the top.West Grand couldn’t move closer as the Skiers resorted to keep-away down the stretch to bleed the clock. A night after cruising to a 17-point victory, they prevailed in a game in which the two teams were tied five different times.”A win is a win, and we’ll take it any way we can get it,” Haack said. “I’m proud of the girls. They stepped up two nights in a row.””It feels good,” Hassall added. “This puts us in great position already. It really motivates us to keep it up and not fall into the slump we had last year.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is

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