Skiers roll past Longhorns to take third place
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado – Trying to overcome the emotional baggage of an agonizing loss to Moffat County on Friday night, the Aspen High School boys basketball team faced upper valley rival Basalt on Saturday afternoon.
Third place in the Western Slope League District Tournament was at stake for the Skiers, who didn’t play in the championship game for the first time in seven years.
A late surge by Aspen helped the Skiers to a 51-32 victory.
But it wasn’t easy, Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said.
“We did not play well for the first two and a half quarters,” Ketchum said. “It was a very close game.”
Outside shooting propelled the Longhorns, he said.
“Sean Ryan kept Basalt in the game. He was really hot,” Ketchum said after the senior point guard hit five 3-pointers to lead the Longhorns with 15 points.
“We struggled from the layup line and the free throw line,” Ketchum said, citing the thorns that pained Aspen in Friday night’s loss to No. 3 seed Moffat County.
“Then, with 4 minutes to go in the third quarter, we went on a 26-8 run for the win,” Ketchum said.
Junior Trent Lichtenwalter led all scorers with 22 points.
His defense, Ketchum said, was more impressive.
“Trent played great. He was all over the place getting steals. He was in the passing lanes, stepping in front of lob passes, giving defensive help,” Ketchum said, who also commended the play of sophomore Dominick Alcorta. Taylor Henschke, also off the bench, added eight points as Aspen’s second-leading scorer.
“He had been struggling, but he really helped us a great deal,” Ketchum said.
Sophomore Evan Patzoldt also had a good game, he said.
The Skiers (18-4) now await their fate in the Class 3A Regionals. The seedings will be announced late today, setting eight Class 3A regional tournament sites with four teams to play at each site.
The top eight seeds will host the two-day tournaments.
Basalt, with a huge home playoff victory over Grand Valley on Thursday, took fourth place in the tournament and will also await a state-tournament opponent.
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