Summer Shootout returns to Aspen High
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – With nine players graduating and just three with varsity experience returning, Jeremy Haack admits he’s not quite sure what to expect from his Aspen High girls basketball team.
The next two weeks should provide some clarity.
For a fourth consecutive year, Haack and his Skiers will host the Aspen Summer Shootout, which kicks off Thursday and will feature 14 teams from across the state. One week later, the squad will head to a tournament at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Fourteen teams are slated to take part in the Shootout, down from 20 in June 2011.
“We got out of school a little later, so we had to move the tournament back a week. Now, we’re competing with college camps and other tournaments going on,” Haack said Tuesday. “That’s fine. We still have some of the top teams in the state as well as some new teams coming.”
The numbers may have gone down, but not the quality. Of the 14 teams scheduled to make the trip, nine made the playoffs in 2A, 3A and 4A last season. In addition to Western Slope squads Olathe, Coal Ridge, Hotchkiss, Grand Valley and Gunnison, Aspen will host 3A power Buena Vista and 4A standouts Steamboat Springs and Eagle Valley.
Buena Vista, West Grand out of Kremmling and Center High School from southern Colorado are making their first appearances in the tournament.
“There’s going to be some good competition. It’s definitely comparable to last year,” Haack said. “Obviously, we can’t put on an event like the colleges or carry those types of numbers, but with the facilities we have, it’s pretty amazing to see what the Shootout has turned into: one of the largest high school camps in the summer.”
Haack admitted that he would’ve been satisfied if seven to eight teams showed up when he first created the tournament in 2009. Instead, the Shootout drew 20 teams from the Western Slope and Front Range in its first year, and that momentum has continued.
The appeal, Haack said, is obvious: an attractive locale and relatively low entry fees.
The chance to play six games in just three days is alluring, too, he added. Aspen will square off with West Grand at 6 p.m. Thursday, then Estes Park, Center and Hotchkiss on Friday.
The Skiers will close out the weekend with Saturday games against Eagle Valley and Buena Vista.
“That’s going to be a tough day, but we’ve got to play good teams. You’ve got to see how your team’s going to compete,” Haack said. “We’re going to be able to take a look at some of our JV and freshman team players. This is a chance to get the girls together and playing, help them get a feel for each other and start building team chemistry.
“It’s really exciting, and I’ve been impressed with the girls’ commitment so far. These next two weeks are going to be a great experience for everybody.”
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Buttermilk Ski Area already is scheduled to host the world’s best at ESPN’s X Games this coming week, while it was recently announced Aspen Highlands will host alpine skiing’s NorAm finals later this spring.