3A Western Slope League basketball hits full speed
There is some good basketball being played in the 3A Western Slope League.
With 10 teams in the league and not much room for a non-league schedule, these squads have rivals right from the get-go.
After about one month of basketball, six teams have showed they have what it takes to not only make a run in the league, but also possibly make some noise in the postseason tournament.
Led by coach Steve Ketchum, Aspen went 14-0 in league last season and still has plenty of firepower despite graduating Cory Parker, who now is playing at Drake University. Roaring Fork transfer Walker Abrahamovich provides good size in the post and Matt Holmes and Trevor Watson are good weapons for the Skiers the outside. Both Holmes and Watson scored 19 points against Palisade.
Record: 6-0, 3-0
Best win: The Skiers stepped up to the 4A level and beat Eagle Valley (60-50) and Palisade (78-49). Aspen also has begun the league season by defeating Hotchkiss, Gunnison and
Most exciting upcoming game: Aspen gets its first big test out Jan. 8 against Coal Ridge.
The Bruins have been far from a contender the past couple seasons, but appear to be clicking. They’ve made their early season mark by finding a way to win tight games. After two lopsided wins, Cedaredge defeated league opponents Grand Valley, Roaring Fork,
Olathe and Hotchkiss by a combined 12 points. Better yet, Cedaredge’s schedule will be more favorable after the break. Cade Sweedny, averaging more than 15 points per game, leads the Bruins.
Record: 5-1, 3-0
Best win: A 36-34 win over Grand Valley when the Bruins held the Cardinals to zero points in the third quarter.
Most exciting upcoming game: At Aspen on Jan. 23.
Coal Ridge Titans
Eric Schmitz is the leader of the Titans dribble-drive offense, as he is averaging more than 25 points per game. Schmitz has been a scoring machine, including a 40-point game in a double overtime thriller against Battle Mountain. Like Cedaredge, Coal Ridge hasn’t been a contender in the past couple of seasons, but with solid personnel the Titans might just
surprise some people.
Record: 6-0, 3-0
Best win: 71-60 over 4A rival Rifle in the second game of the year.
Most exciting upcoming game: Jan. 16 at Cedaredge.
grand valley cardinals
Last March, Grand Valley was the No. 1 seed in the 2A playoffs, but suffered a first-round loss to Sedgwick County. This December, the Cardinals are a 3A team in one of the toughest leagues in the state. Grand Valley stumbled with back to back losses to Cedaredge and Coal Ridge, but have rebounded with two wins. Led by coach Mark Cowan and assistant coach Roger Walters, the Cardinals are on the right track.
Record: 4-2, 2-2
Best win: 60-32 over Roaring Fork when Grand Valley outscored the Rams 43-15 in the second half.
Most exciting upcoming game: Jan. 20 at Coal Ridge. The I-70 rivalry should heat up now that the two teams are in the same conference.
Roaring fork rams
The Rams aren’t as strong as they have been in the past years, but they still can’t be counted out. Larry Williams took over a team that is led by Ryan Weimer and Mike Black. Roaring Fork has suffered some tough losses this season, falling to Steamboat Springs, Rifle and Grand Valley by double digits. The second half of the season will be important for the Rams if they hope to make it back to the final eight as they did in 2007.
Record: 1-4, 1-2
Best win: 48-40 over Basalt.
Most exciting upcoming game: Aspen on Jan. 13. The Rams and Skiers will keep the fierce rivalry going.
The Pirates are tough and full of pride coming off of the state championship in football. They are led by Chris Brummitt, who provides a big body in the post. Olathe might not match up personnel-wise with some of the teams at the top of the league, but as far as toughness goes, the Pirates will challenge anyone.
Record: 2-4, 0-3
Best win: 48-40 over Delta in the first game of the season.
Most exciting upcoming game: At Grand Valley on Jan. 17.