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BHS ready for Burlington

Ben Husband

They say the third time’s a charm.

This is one cliche the Basalt High School boys’ basketball team is counting on being true.

Tonight at the Big House, Basalt will have its third chance in as many years to make it to the one tournament that has eluded the Longhorns the last two seasons – the State Tournament.

The fifth-seeded Longhorns (15-7) will host No. 12 seeded Burlington (16-6) in the 3A Regional game. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

If the Longhorns win, they will advance to the Class 3A High School State Basketball Tournament at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs beginning Thursday, March 4.

Lose and the season will end the way it has the last three years – one game shy of the one tournament Basalt most desires.

“Two years ago, we were focused on just getting to Regionals,” BHS coach Bill Crowley said. “Last year, we were aiming to be at home for Regionals, this year we want to go to state.

“And we don’t care how we get there,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter to us where we play or who we play – our mindset is on getting to state.”

Crowley added that “everything is just so much different with this team than it has been the last two years – we are just really focused.”

In each of the last two seasons, the Longhorns have advanced to the Class 3A Regionals – traveling to Centauri in 1997 and hosting Denver Christian last year.

And in each Regional game, Basalt was handed its worse loss of both seasons with the hopes of advancing to the State Tournament stripped away from the Longhorns.

This year, however, the Horns appear to have their best opportunity to finally get over the Regional hump – they are playing their best basketball of the season and they are stacked with the experience of six seniors who have been to the playoffs.

“Absolutely, without question, this has been the hardest step for us in the past,” Crowley said. “It’s going to take experience – I’ve got six seniors that have been down this road three times at Regionals.

“We’re focused on what we’re going to do,” he continued. “That’s all they are talking about – to them this game is just another step along the way.”

For four seniors in particular, this game is especially important.

Seniors Rodney Crawford, Forrest Woolery, Sean Koutsakis and John Stahlman are all three-year starters and have suffered through the tough losses that have kept them out of the postseason tournament.

But as Crawford put it after last weekend’s Class 3A District Tournament, “We’re on a roll and we’re on our way.”

The Longhorns are coming off their second consecutive 3A District title, where they scored a upset win over Western Slope Conference champs Eagle Valley.

After finishing the regular season with three league losses Crowley said “a lot of people wrote us off then, but we stayed focused and we continued to work hard.

“We’ve worked hard all season getting to this point,” he continued. “Now that we’re here, hopefully we can go to the next step.”


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