Basalt girls basketball makes state for first time in 12 years, will play Lamar

From left, Basalt High School girls basketball players Gracie Reardon, Ava Lane and Riley Dolan pose during a boys basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, in Basalt. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

More than a decade since its last state tournament appearance, the Basalt High School girls basketball team is going dancing again.

The Colorado High School Activities Association announced the Class 3A state playoff bracket Monday, with the Longhorns drawing the No. 17 seed in the 24-team field and will face No. 16 seed Lamar on Tuesday night inside the Lamar Community Building.

“A few of them have been blowing up my phone today and you can tell they are excited. We get an overnight trip, which in the year of COVID is something that is very, very rare,” third-year Basalt coach Amy Contini said of her players. “A chance to be in a Sweet 16 is really awesome for the girls and a chance to play somebody who isn’t as close. The farthest we’ve really had to travel is only a few hours, so for the most part we’ve played teams within and around the valley.”

Lamar (10-2 overall) is located in the southeast corner of the state, not far from the Kansas border. Basalt will leave around 9 a.m. Tuesday for what looks to be a seven-hour bus ride, with game time tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m.

For the Longhorns, this will be their first state playoff game since the 2008-09 season, which according to MaxPreps ended with a 47-27 first-round loss to Colorado Springs Christian. This was the end of a historic run for the program, which included a trip to the 3A state championship game in 2007, a 55-46 loss to Bishop Machebeuf. Contini’s predecessor as coach, Kat Fitzpatrick, was among the BHS stars during that time.

Basalt had one-win seasons in both 2011-12 and 2013-14 as the program fell fast from its glory days and has been rebuilding ever since. This year’s team, which includes a group of five seniors, was coming off a 9-10 season, its best mark since the 2007-08 campaign. This winter, the Longhorns are 9-3 overall after starting 8-0.

Senior Gracie Reardon again led BHS in scoring this season, averaging 13.9 points per game over the 12 contests. Senior Riley Dolan averaged 8.7 points per game this season, second on the team.

“For them to just take it up every single year and bring it up a notch and for them to get an opportunity to go to state is everything I could ask for,” Contini said. “And for these younger girls, I think it’s important they are seeing what we are building on and this is just the beginning of what we are trying to do with them.”

Lamar, which competes in the Class 3A Tri-Peaks League, is led by sophomore Abby Robbins, who in 12 games has averaged 14.8 points per contest along with 5.8 rebounds. The Savages’ only losses are to Colorado Springs Christian and to The Vanguard School, which is the top overall seed in the tournament. The Lamar-Basalt winner will play at No. 1 Vanguard in the round of 16 on Thursday.

“The Lamar girls look like they are going to be really good and they look like they are coached with energy. Their coach reminds me a lot of me running up and down the sidelines, so I’m really excited,” Contini said. “I love games like this. I love March Madness. This is what I grew up on. There is nothing that makes me more excited, honestly, seven-hour bus ride or not.”