Cardinals tripped up by Papenfus, Skiers
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
ASPEN, Colorado ” Aspen guard Andrew Papenfus’ first two shots Friday were off the mark. Still, Skiers head boys basketball coach Steve Ketchum urged the junior to keep shooting.
Papenfus’ shots started falling. Visiting Grand Valley had no answer.
On a night when one of the Skiers’ standouts was neutralized and another was saddled with foul trouble, Papenfus relished his role as the top offensive option. He scored seven points to help Aspen erase an early deficit in the second quarter, sparked a 9-0 run in the third with a 3-pointer from the wing and hit three key free throws in the game’s final 1 minute, 6 seconds.
In a battle between two of 3A’s top teams, the Skiers (16-1 overall, 13-1 in the 3A Western Slope League) prevailed, 52-44, sweeping their season series with the Cardinals (12-4, 9-4) and maintaining their stranglehold on first place in the 3A Western Slope.
“I got in rhythm and had a lot of open looks,” said Papenfus, who led all scorers with 20 points. “Matt (Holmes) was coming off a big game at Basalt (on Tuesday), so they were putting pressure on him all game. I had to take the load off and help my team in any way I could.”
While Papenfus and the rest of the Skiers struggled to find their rhythm, Grand Valley dealt the first blow. Tyler Radel nailed a 3 on the Cardinals’ first possession, fueling an 8-0 run in the first two-plus minutes that forced Ketchum to burn a timeout early.
Aspen, ranked third in the Rocky Mountain News’ latest hoops poll, responded. Zack Babich shook free underneath for an easy lay-in, then Anderson Cole absorbed a bump, drew a foul and finished off the glass with 4:29 to play. The junior’s free throw bounced off the back of the rim, but Papenfus alertly crashed the glass, pulled down the rebound and finished, trimming his team’s deficit to two. The Skiers trailed, 10-9, after eight minutes.
In the opening minutes of the third quarter, the Skiers seized control. Walker Abrahamovich nailed a short jumper in the corner on the opening possession of the second half, then Trevor Watson, who scored 11 despite battling foul trouble much of the night, completed a three-point play. After Cardinals center Dalton Penner scored underneath, Papenfus hit a 3. Seconds later, Holmes picked off a pass and scored in transition.
Abrahamovich exploited his size advantage to finish twice in the lane, and Aspen’s lead ballooned to 33-23 with less than five minutes to play in the quarter.
“We had to everything right to have a game like we did, but they’re just too big for us,” Grand Valley head coach Mark Cowan said. “Their size creates horrible problems for us.”
Colton Cowan finished with 11 points for the Cardinals.
Cardinals cruise against Skiers
Grand Valley’s Erin Vanderpool was on the bench nearly as much as she was on the court in the first half of Friday’s game in Aspen. The junior still managed to make the Skiers miserable.
Vanderpool picked off passes on two consecutive Aspen possessions and scored in transition midway through the second quarter to give the Cardinals a six-point cushion. In the third, she scored twice in the paint as Grand Valley turned a tight game into a rout.
The Skiers scored just four points in the third, hit four field goals in the final 16 minutes and turned the ball over 31 times in a 51-25 loss ” their sixth straight.
Vanderpool led Grand Valley with 15 points. Kasi Jensen finished with 11 and Shawnee Young chipped in with seven for the Cardinals, who have won two straight.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.