BASALT - After more than a year's worth of frustration, the Basalt High School basketball fans stormed the court Thurday night after a huge home victory.
The Basalt boys basketball team knocked off Grand Valley, 39-36, in a nip-and-tuck quarterfinal game in the Western Slope League Tournament.
"We're pretty excited about (the win)," Basalt head coach Rolf Schildman said in a telephone interview ."I would like to think this is a big deal. These guys have worked their butts off this year."
"It was a huge team effort," senior point guard Sean Ryan said after the Thursday night thriller. "The whole crowd, the whole student section rushed the floor," he said after the emotional victory.
"It's been a dream of mine and my teammates to go down to Palisade and play and not just watch the other teams play," Ryan said after the Longhorns (8-12) earned a trip to Palisade High School for today's tournament semifinal game against No. 1 seeded Roaring Fork (17-3).
Last year, along with 20 consecutive losses, the Longhorns missed the opportunity to play in Palisade.
Not this year.
"It was a very defensive game. Both teams played good defense," Ryan said.
The teams were tied, 4-4, after the first quarter. Grand Valley went up in the second quarter, but Basalt's defense took control in the third quarter when the Longhorns held Grand Valley to a single point.
"We played lock-down defense. We played our hearts out," Ryan said.
He said the Longhorns expected a big charge from the Cardinals in the fourth quarter. And they got it.
After a few tense moments with turnovers and missed free throws, the Longhorns finally pulled out the win with late foul shots.
"Patrick Reynolds stepped up. He didn't miss a free throw (at the end)," Ryan said.
Reynolds made six foul shots in the final quarter.
"Spencer Glasener also really stepped up. Defensively, he locked them down. I've never seem him play so aggressively," Ryan said of his teammate.
"It would have been nice if we had made a higher percentage of free throws," Schildman said. "But Patrick (Reynolds) did hit six free throws down the stretch."
Javier Huerta led Basalt with 13 points in the win over Grand Valley.
"It was a big defensive night for us. That's what kept us in the game," the Basalt head coach said.
Ryan and Schildman both said the Longhorns are looking forward to Friday's rivalry game against Roaring Fork, the regular-season league champion. The Longhorns will take on the Rams at 4:30 p.m. at Palisade High School.
In the girls tourney, Basalt's season ended Thursday with a 56-26 loss at Moffat County.