PALISADE (2/25/11) — Aspen survived a turnover-plagued contest with Coal Ridge, 54-35, that had Titan coach Paul Harvey lamenting second-half miscues, which helped a two-point halftime lead disintegrate into a 20-3 Skier third quarter.

All is not lost for the Coal Ridge boys, or their Lady Titan counterparts who were overwhelmed by an 18-6 start by Olathe and lost their semifinal game, 54-26. Both Coal Ridge teams, by winning their quarterfinal games earlier in the week will advance to the 32-team 3A state playoffs, and will also play for third place in the WSL Districts Saturday. The Titan girls (14-7) will play Gunnison (14-7) at 12:30 at Palisade High School for third place; the CRHS boys (12-9) will play Grand Valley (16-5) at 2:15.

Aspen boys 54, Coal Ridge 35
In a see-saw game dominated by turnovers by both teams, Aspen (14-7) took a 14-5 first-quarter lead, increased it by scoring the first basket of the second period, then committed 10 turnovers and didnt score again in the first half. Coal Ridge was slow to take advantage, but used three-point baskets by Nathan Terrin and Brandon Bates, along with four free throws by Darik Brown to draw within a point — and McCade Cox (whose last-second basket defeated Gunnison in Tuesdays 43-42 quarterfinal win) gave the Titans their first lead 18-16 with a 3-pointer 50 seconds before halftime.

Then the tide turned again — with Coal Ridge managing just three free throws and no baskets while committing 8 turnovers and being outscored 20-3 in the third period. Quinn Morehead dropped in 8 points, including a pair of 3-pointers and Mike Schwartz added 6 to pace the Skier surge. Leading 36-21 going into the final quarter, the Skiers opened the door a bit with 7 turnovers and missing 4 of 9 free throws, but Morehead added 7 more points and Jake Nugent chipped in 6 to smother any Titan comeback attempt.

Morehead finished with 18 points, Nugent had 12, and Swartz 9 (all in the second half) to lead the Skier scoring. Tyler Guettlers 10 second-half points paced the Titans. Brown, whose 13 ppg average leads Coal Ridge, was held without a basket and fouled out midway through the fourth quarter.

Olathe girls 54, Coal Ridge 26
The Lady Pirates, nicknamed The Wolfpack by their coach for their ferocious defense, earned the moniker by holding Coal Ridge to just 15 points through three quarters. That meant Olathe’s 18-point first quarter would’ve been enough to hold the lead, but they doubled that output with four players scoring at least six points to that point. Then Morgan Stansberry poured in 10 of her 17 points in the final frame to offset a courageous performance by Titan freshman Paige Ryan, who was twice slammed to the floor and had to leave the game, but returned to score eight points and grab 7 steals. “They were rough,” sophomore Cassie Blackard said of the Pirates, who lived up to that nickname also in arriving at a rematch with the Rifle Bears in Saturday’s championship game. The only time the teams met this season, the Bears won 44-43 in Olathe.

By defeating Cedaredge, 48-43 on Thursday at home, the Basalt Lady Longhorns kept alive their hopes of continuing a rich tradition of playoff basketball. Basalt (7-13) can earn a place in the 32-team 3A state playoffs by winning the Consolation final Saturday at 9 a.m. against Grand Valley (8-13). In the boys Consolation game at 10:45, Gunnison (11-10) meets Olathe (9-12), which knocked the Rifle boys out of chance for the fifth district spot by beating the Bears 62-51 in Rifle Thursday.