Basalt advances to Great Eight
Aspen Times Staff Writer
A one-sided blowout became frighteningly close down the stretch, but the No. 8 seed Lady Longhorns hung on to beat No. 9 Eaton 57-45 in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs in Basalt Saturday afternoon.
Basalt (20-4) nearly squandered an 18-point fourth quarter lead ” Eaton whittled the margin to five points with a minute-and-a-half remaining ” but the Lady ‘Horns sank precious free throws late to suppress the Eaton (19-6) rally.
With the win, Basalt earned a spot in the quarterfinals of the 32-team tourney. The remaining games ” Great Eight, Final Four and the state championship ” will be played at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, beginning Thursday.
Basalt will face No. 1 seed Kent Denver (23-1).
Basalt got off to a quick start against Eaton, leading by ten points at the end of the first quarter before heading into the locker room with a 30-14 margin at the half. The Longhorns continued to dominate in the third quarter and heading into the final quarter they held a commanding 39-21 lead.
But the momentum shifted in the fourth quarter, and after Basalt star Lauren Redfern fouled out with just over three minutes remaining, Eaton came to life and steadily chipped away at the Longhorns’ lead.
With 1:30 left in the fourth, Eaton’s Katie Mackey sank a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to five, 48-43. Mackey led the Reds in scoring with 18 points.
But that’s when Eaton’s pressure faded.
In the final minute of play, a series of fouls sent numerous Longhorns to the charity stripe. And Basalt’s Kelsea Mulcahy and Brittany Pollock combined to sink five foul shots to put away Eaton for good.
Redfern dominated on both sides of the ball once again, scoring a game-high 20 points and causing havoc for the Reds offensive attack.
“She played strong,” first-year Basalt coach Terry Kappeli said of Redfern. “She adds a lot of confidence [to the team].”
But Basalt guards Deanna Spracher and Pollock, both of whom played the entire game, guided the Longhorn attack, with Spracher following Redfern in scoring with 15 points.
“Brittany and Deanna just carry everybody else,” Kappeli said.
As for the late pressure from Eaton, Kappeli cited foul trouble and a mild case of complacency.
“We had a little bit of a lull there,” he said.
But Basalt never panicked as they regained their composure and held on for the win.
“That comes from confidence and having been here before,” Kappeli said of his four-time reigning Class 3A Western Slope League champions.
“They all played strong.”
On Thursday night at CSU’s Moby Arena, Basalt will tip off with Kent Denver for the right to advance to the Final Four.
“We’re just going to get ready to be respectable in states,” Kappeli said.
Meanwhile, Basalt’s Class 3A Western Slope League rival Roaring Fork (22-2), the No. 5 seed, also earned a spot in the Great Eight with a 60-45 win over No. 12 Bishop Machebeuf on Saturday in Carbondale. Roaring Fork will face No. 4 Platte Valley (23-2) on Thursday in Fort Collins.
The No. 32 seed Basalt High boys hoops team (7-16) lost its opening-round state tournament game 66-35 Friday night to No. 1 Pagosa Springs (22-0) in Pagosa Springs.
The No. 17 seed Aspen High boys team (14-9) also saw their season come to an end in Pagosa Springs with a 55-41 loss to No. 16 Kent Denver (19-6).
The No. 2 Roaring Fork boys, however, remained undefeated on the season through the first two rounds of the Class 3A state tourney. Roaring Fork cemented its spot in the boys Great Eight with a 63-47 win over No. 15 Denver Christian on Saturday in Carbondale. The Rams’ boys will face No. 10 Estes Park on Thursday in Fort Collins.
Steve Benson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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