At no point does the Aspen-Basalt rivalry lack any fuel. But, what is shaping up this week between the high school basketball teams will be something extra entertaining.
The regular season has come down to a lone game for all four teams, with the Longhorns scheduled to host the Skiers on Thursday night. The girls will play at 5:30 p.m., and the boys will follow around 7.
What makes this fascinating is it could very well be the first of back-to-back games the teams will play against each other. You see, should the current Class 3A Western Slope League standings hold, Aspen and Basalt — and I’m talking boys and girls — will likely meet again in the district play-in game early next week.
And the winners of Thursday’s two games will likely get to host that play-in game.
The way the 10-team league works is that the top six seeds get a bye, while the bottom four compete in the play-in games to become the final two teams to make the main eight-team bracket. Seed No. 7 hosts No. 10, and seed No. 8 hosts No. 9.
Let’s start with the boys. AHS and BHS are both 1-7 in WSL play, with each team owning a win over Cedaredge (0-8). Moffat County is 3-5 and currently in seventh place in the league, which plays a nine-game league schedule. So, the winner of Thursday’s game in Basalt will be locked into that eighth seed and the loser into the ninth.
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Now, for the girls. AHS is 1-7 in WSL play and Basalt is 2-6. At 0-7 in league and with two of the best teams still to go, Olathe seems all but assured the No. 10 seed. Gunnison is 3-5 and sitting in seventh, while Roaring Fork is 3-4 and in sixth. Based off Basalt’s stunning upset of the Rams on Feb. 1, there might be a way for BHS to climb out of the play-in game altogether, but it’s unlikely, even with a win over Aspen. Gunnison holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over BHS, meaning the eighth seed is a high likelihood for the Longhorns. Although should AHS win Thursday, they’d jump Basalt into the eighth spot.
So, like I said, looks like when Aspen and Basalt play each other on Thursday, both the boys and girls will be vying to be the host team for the district play-in game, not that either team needed motivation to show up against their rival.
Thursday will be the first time the girls have played each other this season. According to MaxPreps, the BHS girls have won eight straight in this series, dating back to an Aspen win on Feb. 24, 2014.
The boys did play earlier this season, Basalt winning a tightly-contested 44-40 game on Dec. 12 in Aspen. That, however, was a non-league affair and has no bearing on the WSL standings. The BHS boys have won seven straight over the Skiers.
Long story short, Thursday is going to be fun.
Aspen hockey is off until concluding its regular season on Saturday at Resurrection Christian. Then, we’ll see how the cards fall when the playoff bracket is announced. Beating Crested Butte on Saturday was much needed, but too late in terms of winning the Peak Conference.
Basalt wrestling will head to Alamosa at the end of the week for regionals. I’d expect them to get a couple of guys into the state tournament, which is the following weekend in Denver.
The AHS Nordic team wrapped up its regular season this past weekend in Steamboat, while the alpine team still has races in Beaver Creek to go on Friday. State skiing is Feb. 21 and 22 in Durango, where the Skiers will be looking to defend their state titles (boys and girls) from last winter.
How about we give one more shoutout to Davy Brown and AHS girls swimming for taking fourth at state over the weekend. Brown, a senior, won the 3A state title in both the 200 IM and the 100 back, not to mention being one of four on the team’s record-breaking 200-yard freestyle relay, which also won. Brown will swim for Colorado Mesa University next year.