CARBONDALE - If only Basalt could've tossed out the first quarter.
The underdog Longhorns girls basketball team hung with 4A Eagle Valley for much of Friday's season opener, fearlessly and repeatedly driving to the basket and flustering the Devils with opportunistic defense.
The Longhorns were outscored by just one point in the game's final 24 minutes. In the first eight, however, they dug themselves a deficit that proved to be too big to overcome. They lost, 51-35.
"We did awesome. I'm very proud of them," first-year head coach Tiffany Robison said. "If we came out strong like we did in the second quarter and played that way all night, we would've been right there. ... It was the first game, so I think it was nerves and all that good stuff."
Whatever the reason, Basalt, a one-win team in 2011-12, came out flat at Roaring Fork High School.
Megan Asmussen banked home a 3 on the game's first possession, then relentless full-court pressure from the Devils produced a turnover and an easy lay-up.
Berta Rivera momentarily gave the Longhorns life with a drive and score, but Eagle Valley responded. It patiently worked the perimeter on offense, generating scores of open looks inside the 3-point arc.
Adept shooting helped the Devils race out to a 21-6 lead after one quarter.
Basalt finally was able to solve the press and spend time operating in the half court in the second quarter. Emmalee Erickson pitched in with four points in the frame, and fellow senior Carina Capobianco scored on the offensive glass in the waning moments for the Longhorns, who trailed, 29-12, at the break.
Capobianco caught fire early in the third, connecting twice from beyond the arc and once at the foul line in the first three-plus minutes to pull her squad to within 14. She and Erickson combined for 27 points.
Capobianco's 3 late in the third trimmed the deficit to 11. Madeline Lounsberry answered with an athletic runner, however, and then Michelle Carbajal nailed a jumper to restore order for Eagle Valley.
Mariel Gutierrez finished with 15 points for the Devils, who were not tested in the fourth.
Basalt takes on Steamboat Springs at 2 p.m. Saturday in Carbondale.
"Our defense fell into place and really was doing what it's supposed to do," Robison said. "This was a good effort, especially considering we're trying to build a program and get used to a new coach."