OLATHE (1/18/14) — Down by 8 points late in the third quarter to a winless Olathe boys team, the Aspen Skiers had to charge hard down the stretch to remain unbeaten in Western Slope League play, 49-37, Saturday.
The night before, Aspen (7-2, 6-0 WSL) battled mightily at Roaring Fork to escape with a 39-36 victory. A ton of turnovers handicapped the Skiers and allowed the last-place Pirates, not only to hang around, but take a 33-25 lead after Trenton Jole’s third 3-pointer of the game with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
The turnaround wasn’t immediate for the struggling Skiers, who had 24 turnovers to that point in the game. But Clayton Crawford scored on a pass from Evan Patzoldt and converted the “and-one” with 1:24 remaining, and a free throw, then steal-and-layup by Patzoldt trimmed the Pirate lead to 33-31 going into the final quarter.
Because of 18 first-half turnovers against a sagging Olathe zone, the Skiers managed just 21 points and were tied at intermission. In the third quarter, Aspen made just 3-of-9 shots and had 9 more turnovers.
After yet another unproductive play, Coach Steve Ketchum leaned back in his courtside chair and looked skyward, as if seeking some divine assistance. But the help came from a usual source for the Skiers, 6-4 senior Trent Lichtenwalter, who had just 6 points through the first three frames.
In the fourth, Lichtenwalter scored inside on the Skiers’ first possession to tie the game at 33. A drive by Patzoldt gave Aspen its first lead in the second half after Jole missed the front of a one-and-one try at the line. The Pirates made two free throws to knot the score with 6:52 left in the contest. But Lichtenwalter sparked a 14-2 finish with 3 steals and 6 points as Olathe came down to earth, committing 7 turnovers and making just 1 of 6 shots.
Crawford kept Aspen afloat in the first half, scoring 11 of his game-high 18 points. He also helped the Skiers control the boards (33 to 12) by grabbing 13 rebounds. Lichtenwalter and Patzoldt each scored 12, with Evan adding 6 assists and 3 steals and Trent hauling down 9 rebounds and making 6 steals.
The Aspen girls ran into a buzz-saw at Olathe, losing 57-9, while yielding 46 turnovers to the Pirates’ aggressive man-to-man defense. Mary Landis led the Skiers with 4 points and 8 rebounds.