Skiers crash: Mistakes doom Aspen in title game loss to Faith Christian

FORT COLLINS — Aspen High School boys basketball coach Steve Ketchum said his team would have to play the game of its life Saturday to have a chance at dethroning two-time defending state champion Faith Christian.

The Skiers gave the necessary effort, but it was not enough to stop the Eagles from claiming their third consecutive state championship.

Faith Christian got enough defense, transition offense and timely shots to top Aspen 57-47 in Saturday night’s state-championship bout at Moby Arena.

“They’re really talented,” Ketchum said of Faith Christian. “They’ve got 10 guys across the board that can really shoot it, pass it, handle it and defend it. They are hard to beat. I just thought we made too many mistakes to win the ballgame. You can’t make mistakes and beat a team like that.”

Aspen outscored the Eagles 13-7 in third quarter to make it a 41-35 game entering the fourth. But Faith Christian (26-1) opened the fourth quarter with a key 6-0 run thanks to back-to-back three-point plays by Deron Rindels and Derek McCartney that stretched the lead from six to 12 at 48-35.

Joel Hegarty also gave the Eagles the boost they needed in the first half with 12 of his game-high 18 points coming in the opening 16 minutes. The Eagles led at halftime 34-22.

“We had the momentum going into the fourth,” Aspen senior guard Matthew Holmes said. “We felt like we had chance, but they hit a couple of big shots and had some nice drive to the lane, and that kind of took us out of our game.”

Aspen’s Andrew Papenfus, who led the Skiers with 23 and 13 points in their first two tournament games, was whistled for his third foul early in the second quarter. Although he did not foul out and finished with 13 points to lead the Skiers, foul problems plagued Aspen.

Faith Christian hit 18 of 26 free throws and Aspen went 8 of 15 from the line.

“That helped, absolutely,” Faith Christian coach Andrew Hasz said. “It was a physical game. It started out right away, and that’s what you expect. You don’t come here to play soft.”

Aspen did not get the end result it wanted, but Ketchum said this Skiers’ team will go down as the best in school history.

“Our kids have a lot of heart,” Ketchum said. “I’m very proud of this group. They certainly are the best team ever to come out of Aspen High School. I am proud that we are public school state champions.”


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