BASALT - The streak is not just over, it is obliterated.
The Basalt boys basketball team made sure of that on a memorable night in the midvalley.
The Longhorns rode a 27-game losing streak into Friday's non-conference bout with Vail Mountain School. They emerged with their first win in nearly two years.
A determined Basalt squad dominated play from the opening tip-off, operating at peak efficiency on offense and flustering the Gore Rangers with aggressive defense. It scored 16 of the game's first 19 points, led by 44 at the break and rolled to a 84-23 victory to improve to 1-2.
The result had Longhorns players shaking their heads and grinning widely after the final buzzer.
"That's the most fun I've had in a basketball game in my entire life," senior guard Sean Ryan proclaimed. "I've been waiting a long time to do that, since my freshman year. To play in front of a big crowd, to be a team and to know how it feels to beat a team like that is awesome."
Added head coach Rolf Schildman, "It's nice not to have (the losing streak) hanging over our heads anymore. I could feel the pressure on their shoulders this week."
Not only had Basalt not won a game since February 2011, but it rarely was competitive. During last season's 0-20 campaign, the Longhorns were outscored by an average of nearly 30 points per game and lost by more than 50 three times, including a humbling
73-14 defeat in Aspen.
Their lone single-digit loss came in Vail in December, when their bid for a tying basket rimmed out at the buzzer.
"We try not to think too much about last year, but I'm sure it's been in the back of all of our minds," Ryan said. "It was in the back of the minds of everybody that came to our games. Once we got out to a quick start tonight, I'm sure nobody was thinking about it, though."
Added Schildman, "These kids were hungry for this one. They were ready to play."
The Longhorns showcased a level of energy and tempo Friday that's been lacking of late. They opened with an 8-0 spurt fueled by guard Dylan Rakowski, who fearlessly drove to the basket twice, absorbed contact and finished off the glass. Playing his first game of the season, the senior led all scorers with 17 in just three quarters on the court.
Teammates Spencer Glasener and Nicholas Calabro dominated the paint, and Ryan added a 3-pointer and two free throws for Basalt, which led 16-3 after eight minutes.
The Longhorns blew things wide open in a second quarter in which they outscored VMS 35-4. Four different players - Ryan, Rakowski, Glasener and Calabro - each scored eight or more points in the opening half. Glasener finished with 11.
Basalt scored 50 or more just three times last year. It reached that mark by the break Friday.
"I didn't even look at the scoreboard until halftime," Ryan said. "When I looked up and saw that it was 51-7, I thought, 'My goodness, this is new.'"
The Longhorns scored the third quarter's first eight points and never looked back. Ryan, who finished with 12, and the rest of the starters spent the fourth wearing warm-ups and following the action from the bench.
"I never felt that before. It was a good feeling," Ryan said. "It was cool watching everybody get to play and contribute to a big win."
Basalt hopes it can make this a habit. Next week's games in Aspen (7 p.m. Friday) and at home against Grand Valley (4 p.m. Dec. 22) will be a true barometer of the squad's progress.
"We've played some pretty tough schools so far. It has paid off," Schildman said. "Offensively, the guys are starting to trust themselves and what we're trying to do here. We saw tonight how things can look when everything's clicking.
"Things are going to get tougher, but we're looking forward to it."