Basalt boys basketball ready to move forward in Year 2 under C.P. Martinez | AspenTimes.com

Basalt boys basketball ready to move forward in Year 2 under C.P. Martinez

Basalt's Jackson Rapaport passes during a game last season against Aspen. Rapaport figures to be a central figure for the Longhorns during the 2018-19 season, which begins Thursday.

Last season was a significant step backward for the Basalt High School boys basketball team, and coach C.P. Martinez is more than willing to take the blame.

He's also optimistic this season will come with two steps forward.

"It was a first-year coaching struggle. Them not knowing me, me being hired a week before the year started, that was probably the biggest struggle," Martinez said. "It's to be expected as a first-year coach in a brand new community, but the way things have developed is just awesome."

The Longhorns finished 6-14 overall last winter, the first with Martinez at the helm. The year prior, under coach Danny Martinez (no relation), Basalt went 21-4 overall and advanced to the Class 3A state quarterfinals before falling to top seed Kent Denver. That team included Michael Glen, who is starting for the Colorado School of Mines in Golden.

Despite that dismal overall record last winter, the Longhorns did do well later in the season. They finished 4-5 in 3A Western Slope League play, which was good for fifth place in the 10-team league. Coal Ridge went a perfect 9-0 in WSL competition for the league title.

"We put some fear in Coal Ridge and Grand Valley last year by the end of the year the way they were playing," C.P. Martinez said. "I feel great. I think we have some winnable games at the beginning to build momentum and really head into league and improve from our fifth-place spot and really challenge for top three and hopefully surprise some people along the way."

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Basalt did lose its top two scorers from last season due to graduation in Wylie Hawkins (13.8 ppg) and Justin Henderson (19.0 ppg). Also gone is graduate Raul Torres, who was third in scoring and led the team with 7.9 rebounds per game.

But, according to Martinez, the cupboard is hardly bare. Much like the football team this past fall, the Longhorns will be led by senior returners Trevor Reuss and Jake Reardon. Even senior Chace Maytham, also a standout football player, joined the basketball team this winter.

"They are skilled. They are confident. They know what they are doing. And our locker room is amazing because of them," Martinez said of Reuss and Reardon. "It is definitely hard to replace scorers like Justin and Wylie, people with some basketball experience. But the work our kids have put in and the type of system we are running now, I think it really fits them well and is going to put them in some places to be successful."

The Longhorns will have a pair of 6-foot-4 players in junior Jackson Rapaport, another standout from the football team, and junior Mateo Salazar, who played soccer in the fall. Martinez also heaped praise on junior Brian Granados, who barely played a season ago because of a shoulder injury, junior Aaron Lopez and junior Tristan Johnston, who has a knack for the 3-point shot.

"To be quite honest, I'm feeling pretty good," Martinez said. "I really think we are going to take some steps forward."

Basalt is scheduled to get its season underway Thursday, Nov. 29 at a round-robin tournament hosted by Platte Valley High School, just outside Greeley. The Longhorns will open with the host school Thursday night, which is ironically the same school that knocked the football team out of the playoffs earlier this month. BHS will also play Eaton on Friday and University on Saturday.

Next week, Basalt will play in a tournament hosted by Weld Central High School before traveling to Aspen on Dec. 12 for its first true road game. The Skiers, who are entering their third season under coach Alex Schrempf, start their season Tuesday night at home against Rifle.

"Alex and I have a great relationship and I really respect the guy," Martinez said. "Hopefully him and I can do some things to help continue to build basketball in the valley. It will be awesome to be up there. Those guys will be ready to go. As always, a rivalry is always fun."

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While the Basalt boys will be at Platte Valley, the BHS girls will open their season just north of Greeley at Eaton. The Longhorns will play the same three teams as the boys over the three days, beginning with a game against Platte Valley Thursday night.

The Basalt girls are led by first-year coach Amy Contini. BHS went 5-15 last season.

The Aspen High School girls basketball team opens its season Thursday, Nov. 29 at a tournament hosted by Meeker. The Skiers are led by the first-year husband-wife duo of James and Lindsey Aldridge. AHS went 1-19 last season.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

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