Basalt a point short at state
The Basalt Lady Longhorns’ dream of a state championship was cut short Friday night in a heartbreaking one-point loss to Bishop Machebeuf, 41-40 , in the Class 3A tournament semifinals at Widefield High School.
Bishop Machebeuf went on to win the crown Saturday, while the deflated Longhorns lost a second close match, 66-60, to La Junta in the third-place consolation game.
The Longhorns can take comfort in one big accomplishment – they improved on last year’s appearance in the state tournament, when the team took home the fifth-place “consolation” championship. They’re also tied as the most successful team in BHS hoops history – the school also claimed fourth place in the early ’80s.
“It was a good overall season. It’s really sad that we had to end it how we did,” said junior guard Autumn Caughern.
Friday’s game began with Basalt’s bid to prove their dominance: an easy 3-point shot from Caughern in the first 10 seconds. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much room for further scoring on either end of the court during the first half – Basalt and Machebeuf seemed to match each other block for block, steal for steal. Machebeuf eased to a 9-8 lead at the close of the first quarter, and extended the advantage 20-18 as the first half wrapped up.
Machebeuf went on a scoring tear in the third quarter, scoring a quick nine points before BHS senior Mariah Mulcahy sank a 3-pointer to end the run. Caughern and fellow junior Lauren Redfern attempted to make up the difference with a few late baskets, holding Machebeuf’s advantage to 35-33.
The final period opened with missed scoring opportunities for both teams, but baskets by Caughern and Redfern soon earned the Longhorns their first lead of the day, 40-37. A 3-pointer and a free throw helped Machebeuf to a lead yet again, but Basalt had one last hope – a foul sent Mulcahy to the free-throw line with just four seconds left in the game.
Facing a one-and-one situation with Basalt down 41-40, Mulcahy had the chance to tie and possibly overtake Machebeuf, but her free throw rattled out of the rim and Machebeuf won the berth to the state championship game.
Machebeuf beat Roosevelt on Saturday for the title.
“At the end, we had several chances to come back, but we didn’t take full advantage of those options,” Caughern said. “We made a lot of little errors. It was just the little-bitty things that cost us the game.”
Caughern led Basalt with 18 points, and Redfern finished with 12.
The Longhorns advanced to the tournament’s third-place game on Saturday, but the fight had clearly gone out of the team.
“Nobody really recovered from Machebeuf. We were kind of out there, just finishing up the season,” Caughern said.
Basalt suffered in the first half, especially from a number of passing errors, that helped La Junta to a 15-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. Mulcahy stepped up to contribute nine points in the second quarter, whittling down La Junta’s lead to 29-25 at the close of the first half.
La Junta kept its lead for the rest of Saturday’s game. Though Basalt recovered from its previous cold shooting in the fourth quarter, La Junta answered each basket with one of its own. The Tigers ended the game with a 66-60 win and the tournament’s third-place trophy.
BHS ended their season with a 22-5 overall record.
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