Aspen boys proving there’s more than just skiing in town

It’s no secret that Aspen has always been known for its skiing.

Recently, the small Western Slope community and its social scene have been the backdrop for VH1’s hard-hitting reality show “Secrets of Aspen.”

Still a bit of a secret, is the Aspen High School boys basketball team.

The Skiers are 53-6 the past three seasons, which includes two trips to the Class 3A state tournament. This season, the Skiers are off to a 6-0 start.

Aspen is at Palisade tonight to play the Bulldogs in a game that was rescheduled because of a snow storm earlier this season.

“They’re an excellent program, and a great team,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said. “It will be good for us to play them.”

One thing that has made the Skiers so successful has been Aspen coach Steve Ketchum’s ability to replace talented players who graduate. In the past two seasons alone, the Skiers have lost the likes of Cory Parker, a 6-foot-6 post who now is at Drake University, and Walker Abrahamovich, a 6-8 post now at Maryville University.

Taking the spotlight this season is 6-foot-1 point guard Matthew Holmes, who was the Western Slope League’s player of the year last season. Holmes averaged 15 points per game last season, and scoring 11.5 points a game this season.

The Skiers have size in 6-6 shooting guard Andrew Papenfus and 6-5 senior Zach Babich. Papenfus might be the next Skier to surface at the collegiate level, and is leading the team with 13.7 points per game.

“They will be a good test,” Phillips said. “We will have to work on the defensive end.”

The Skiers flew past Palisade last season, 78-49. This time around, Aspen is taking on a Palisade team that’s looking to recover from a 42-31 loss at Glenwood Springs.

“We have a sour taste in our mouth,” Phillips said. “We have to settle down and get our offensive game taken care of.”

Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m.

Higgins verbal

According to her father, Mathew, Central High School volleyball player Haleigh Higgins has given her verbal commitment to Mesa State College. The elder Higgins said Haleigh had scholarship opportunities from Fort Lewis, Adams State and Mesa State, and chose the Mavericks because of coach Dave Fleming’s coaching style.

Higgins had her best season as a senior, when she was the Southwestern League’s player of the year and made the all-state team.

Fountain of no hope

This past weekend, both Grand Junction and Fruita Monument’s boys basketball teams ran into the buzzsaw that is Fountain-Fort Carson. The Trojans are an athletic team, and held both the Tigers and Wildcats to under 50 points. Fruita took on the Trojans first, losing 74-47.

“They are a very talented team with a lot of good players,” Fruita Monument coach Dave Fox said. “They apply a lot of pressure.”

The pressure got to Grand Junction the next night as the Tigers were tied 13-13 after the first quarter, but ended up losing 71-36.

League play

The Western Slope League is entering its second week of league games, but this weekend marks the beginning of the Southwestern League conference play. Grand Junction starts off with the Four Corners trip, taking on Montezuma-Cortez on Friday and Durango on Saturday. Fruita Monument and Central face each other on Friday night, with Fruita hosting the initial matchup.


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