The Pirates’ youth has been a work in progress all season long as the young players have had to learn how to play at the varsity level.
It’s been trying at times, and that was what happened Friday night when the Olathe boys basketball team hosted Aspen.
Olathe (2-11; 0-3 in Western Slope League) trailed by four points after the first quarter and by only one possession midway through the second period. But the Skiers (10-4; 4-1 in WSL) pulled ahead late in the first half before winning the game, 56-35.
“It’s been the same thing all season: mental mistakes and not taking care of the ball,” coach Gene Stollsteimer said. “Some of that is our inexperience and immaturity. We’ve got some young guys and it’s plagued us all year.”
Stollsteimer added the only player on this year’s roster with varsity experience is senior Dayton Sofka. He’s played a vital leadership role this season alongside fellow senior Victor Fernandez, the Olathe coach said.
Thanks to those players’ leadership, the team has played better compared to earlier this season, Stollsteimer said.
“To be where we’re out now, we’re doing great,” he said. “They’re coming together and playing well. … You’ve got to love that. It’s just getting to win the side of it has been difficult for us.”
That was the case against the Skiers.
Following an 11-7 first-quarter lead for Aspen, Olathe fought hard to keep up with the visiting team.
The Pirates whittled the deficit to 15-12 around the halfway point of the second quarter, but it was the closest they got for the rest of the first half and for the night. The Skiers closed out the half on an 11-2 run, giving the visitors a 26-14 edge.
Aspen continued to balloon its lead in the second half as the Skiers outscored the Pirates 14-11 in the third quarter to take a 40-25 advantage.
The Skiers closed out the game leading by as much as 23 points late in the fourth quarter.
Olathe is in the middle of a tough stretch.
The Pirates competes at Coal Ridge (9-4) on Saturday. Next, they will take on the top team in their league in Gunnison (11-2) at 7 p.m., Tuesday, at home.
“It’s no rest for us,” Stollsteimer said. “We’re just going to keep fighting.”
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.