Basalt girls escape with win in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Basalt girls escape with win in Aspen

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jim RyanSkiers senior Lindsey Anderson drives to the basket as Basalt's Jamie Matherly defends Saturday afternoon at Aspen High School.

ASPEN – The Basalt girls basketball team is not making things easy for its first-year head coach.

Friday night, the Longhorns squandered a 19-4 first-quarter lead against Gunnison before pulling out an overtime win. The trend continued Saturday afternoon in Aspen.

The Skiers mounted a late rally to erase Basalt’s 13-point halftime lead during the latter stages of a dramatic fourth quarter. Longhorns senior Nicole Booth ultimately put things out of reach, however, when she confidently sank two free throws with 53 seconds to seal a 49-45 win.

“I’m going to be old before I turn 25,” joked Basalt head coach Dane LeBlanc. “We get ahead in the first half, then come out in the second and don’t have the same intensity. It takes [the opposing team] cutting our lead down to nothing before we get it back.”

Aspen (1-3 overall, 0-2 3A Western Slope) scored just five points during the second quarter – the result of untimely turnovers and poor shooting – and saw the Longhorns’ four-point lead after one balloon to 13 at the half.

Lindsey Anderson and Bailey Everhart made sure the Skiers did not go quietly. Anderson hit two jumpers and two free throws, and Everhart scored twice down low during the first 51⁄2 minutes of the third as Aspen orchestrated a 10-2 run to pull to within six at 30-24. Basalt’s lead was seven heading to the fourth.

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“To come back against being down 13 and have a chance to win at the end, it shows you that they’ve got a lot of heart and fight in them,” Skiers coach Jeremy Haack said. “That will carry us later in the season.”

It almost carried Aspen to an improbable first league win. After the Longhorns (2-2, 2-0) turned the ball over on the first possession of the fourth quarter, Georgia Lipkin nailed a 3 from the wing, then teammate Morgan Kimmel pulled down an offensive rebound and scored, trimming the Skiers’ deficit to 34-32.

With 6:30 remaining, Haack tried unsuccessfully to call a timeout as his team struggled to in-bound the ball. It ended up working out, as Anderson found some open space, corralled the pass and hit a jumper to square the game.

Soon after, Basalt forward Mackenzie Buck shook free behind the Skiers’ press, controlled a half-court pass, absorbed a bump and finished off the glass. The senior converted the three-point play.

After Lipkin picked off a pass and scored, Julia Kaputska scored in transition and Buck hit a free throw to extend the Longhorns’ lead to four. Anderson, who led all scorers with 17, pulled Aspen to within two with a runner in the lane with about four minutes remaining.

The Skiers would get no closer. Basalt kept things close, largely because of a two-minute stretch in which it missed four of five free throws.

Booth missed two of those attempts with 1:25 to play – had they gone in, the Longhorns would have led by six. With 53 seconds remaining and her team clinging to a two-point lead, Booth found herself at the line once more.

She did not miss this time.

“Definitely, [I felt comfortable with Booth at the line],” LeBlanc said. “She and Mackenzie came up really big for us.”

Booth’s timely shooting helped Basalt clinch a second tight win in as many days and improve to 2-0 in league play. Buck led the way with 14 points, while Jamie Matherly added 12. Booth and Katelyn Timroth each had 10 for the Longhorns, who host Grand Valley at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Everhart finished with eight points and Lipkin six for the Skiers, who have dropped three straight since their lopsided opening-night win over Battle Mountain. They next play Jan. 8 in Olathe.

“That second quarter killed us. You know, we need the same kind of intensity we had in the third and fourth quarters,” Haack said. “We’re still young. We can still do great things.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com