Aspen cures early mishaps, tops Coal Ridge in 3A consolation round
FORT COLLINS — The Aspen High School boys basketball team had its shooting touch dialed up from the start. Once the Skiers rectified an early problem with turnovers, it was lights out for Coal Ridge.
The Skiers used a torrid shooting performance in the first half Friday to build a big lead they sorely needed late, as Aspen weathered a furious Coal Ridge rally in the final minutes to record a 64-57 victory in the consolation round of the Class 3A basketball finals at Moby Arena.
Aspen (24-2) plays Yuma at 10 this morning in the fifth-place game. Andrew Papenfus, whose knee injury limited him to four points in Aspen’s quarterfinal-round loss against Faith Christian on Thursday, rebounded to make four 3-pointers and lead the Skiers with 18 points.
“It was a rough start. I don’t know what we were doing,” Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said.
“We worked through that and then I thought we just played great in the second quarter.
Lockdown defense, shot it well, and Andy Papenfus got hot and hit some 3s. It was
Aspen committed eight turnovers in the first quarter while falling behind 11-4, but the Skiers ended the period with nine consecutive points and added the first seven points of the second quarter to take a lead they would never relinquish. Aspen made 12 of 18 shots in the first half.
Despite extending the lead to 23 points early in the fourth, things got interesting down the stretch after Coal Ridge sharpshooters Andy Smedra and Eric Schmitz got hot. The Titans outscored Aspen 19-5 in the final minutes to crawl within eight points in the final half-minute, but time ran out on Coal Ridge’s rally.
Trever Watson supported Papenfus’ effort with 15 points, hitting 7-of-10 shots and guard Matthew Holmes added 11 points.
Smedra and Schmitz each connected on five 3-pointers for Coal Ridge (21-5). Smedra scored 22 of his game-high 24 points in the second half and Schmitz finished with 20 points, scoring 15 during the frenetic fourth-quarter rally.
“That was us throwing it around, and our mental focus needs to get stronger because we had way too many turnovers,” Papenfus said. “When we’re clicking and we’re focused, I still think we’re the best 3A team in Colorado. But when we have those two-minute lapses, that’s when teams come back.”
Brush 40, Gunnison 37: Rebecca Walker made a short baseline jumper with about 42 seconds remaining to give Brush the final lead in a wild fourth quarter that featured nine lead changes. Gunnison committed a turnover after Walker’s shot and Beetdiggers freshman Kenedi
Guzman sealed the Cowgirls’ fate by making two free throws with 17 seconds remaining.
Kaitie Vader led Gunnison with 14 points but watched her desperation three-pointer glance off the rim in the final seconds.
1 A Boys
Crested Butte 78, Otis 68: John Wright scored 36 points to lead Crested Butte to a win over Otis in the Class 1A boys state semifinals in Greeley.
Chris Sharpe added 21 points for Crested Butte, which improved to 26-0 on the season. The third-seeded Titans play Caliche.
Karson Kuntz led Otis with 30 points, but it wasn’t enough to help the Bulldogs (20-6) overcome a 14-point halftime deficit.
Applying full-court pressure throughout the second half, Otis got as close as five points late in the third quarter and still trailed by only six with 6:22 left in the game.
Wright hit a 3-pointer and converted two free throws to help Crested Butte regain control, and Otis was forced to foul for much of the game’s final four minutes. Otis never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Otis, coming off an upset Thursday of No. 2 seed Kit Carson, led 18-17 early in the second quarter, but Crested Butte closed the half on a 21-6 run to take a 38-24 lead into the break.