Basalt girls b-ball nets championship |

Basalt girls b-ball nets championship

Tim Mutrie

Basalt closed out its league schedule undefeated at 10-0 with a 69-37 rout of Eagle Valley Friday night. The win earned the Basalt girls their first league title since 1992, a No. 1 seed in the district tournament that begins later this week and an automatic bid to the regional tournament, which opens March 3.

“The girls were excited to go out and win the league championship outright,” said Basalt coach Debbie Cain. “They stepped up and earned it Friday night.”

Basalt pounced on Eagle Valley early, taking a 17-4 lead after the first period and comfortably cruising to a 32-point victory.

“We played great defense and finally started putting the ball in the hole,” Cain said.

Junior Stephanie Kemp led Basalt with 18 points, and 6 rebounds. Senior forward Heather Kappeli knocked down 16 points, and grabbed 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Mariah Mulcahy added 12 for Basalt, and Lauren Redfern, a freshman, pulled down 6 rebounds.

Cain said the Basalt team briefly celebrated their championship Friday night, then began focusing on the district tournament, which begins at 7 p.m. Thursday at home for Basalt.

Basalt, the No. 1 seed in the tourney ahead of No. 2 Roaring Fork, No. 3 Aspen and No. 4 Gunnison, will face the winner of Tuesday’s pigtail game between No. 8 Cedaredge and No. 9 Hotchkiss on Thursday at the Basalt High “Big House.”

“We talked about enjoying the title, but we said we need to look at the playoffs like it’s a whole new season,” Cain said. “Every year it’s a crazy, crazy tournament. Everyone starts over on Monday at 0-0 and your seed doesn’t matter.”

Three teams from the league will advance from districts to the regional tournament, including Basalt, which locked up an automatic berth by winning the league outright. After Thursday, four teams will advance to Friday’s and Saturday’s finals at Palisade High School in Grand Junction. The top two finishers will claim the remaining berths to the regional tournament.

“We know what our goals are and we have to be very focused,” Cain said. “You have to ready every single night.”

“One of the goals we set at the end of last season was to improve our defense,” she continued. “We have a lot of scorers, and we know that, so defense is what we work on. We have to stop that other team from scoring and all five girls can work together to do that.”

Last season, Basalt went the majority of the season undefeated, in league or otherwise, before losing to the eventual Class 3A state runner-up Aspen late in the season. This season, Basalt again started unbeaten at 6-0, but lost Dec. 16 to the larger, Class 4A Moffat County. The loss touched off a two-month hot-streak where the Longhorn girls went 11-0 to finish the regular season at 17-1 overall, 10-0 in league.

“I never think a loss is good because I hate to lose, but there’s a different feel to this season versus last year,” Cain said. “When we met Aspen (last year) we were both undefeated, and that created a lot of pressure. The loss (to Moffat County) seemed to alleviate that pressure this year, so we could stop thinking about being undefeated, undefeated, undefeated. The girls know that they can be beaten and they know they have to play every single night to win.”

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