Basalt basketball pushes fans to the end
The Aspen Times
BASALT — The Longhorns keep their fans occupied until the end.
The very end.
The Basalt High School boys basketball team, in a see-saw Western Slope League game, pushed Coal Ridge and all the fans to the limit Tuesday night before a pair of free throws by Jake Solinger with 11.7 seconds to play sealed a hard-fought 49-46 win for the visiting Titans.
In yet another thriller in the Big House, Basalt’s Pedro and Pablo Rivera and Adrian Lujan set the stage for a theatrical fourth quarter with a flurry of activity at the close of the third quarter.
Trailing by six points with 2 minutes to go in the third, Lujan started the run with a putback basket.
After their press forced a Coal Ridge turnover, Pedro Rivera hit a baseline jumper. And after yet another forced turnover, Pablo Rivera scored on a layup with :09 to play in the period.
Another forced turnover gave the ball back to the Longhorns, and Pablo Rivera rolled in a layup at the buzzer to give the Longhorns a 29-27 lead entering the fourth quarter.
But the theatrics were only beginning.
Both teams exploded offensively in the fourth quarter when the lead changed hands six different times.
A key (and conventional) three-point play by Richie Guerrero marked a run of seven consecutive points for the Basalt senior, giving the Longhorns a two-point lead.
Sophomore Michael Glen pushed the Basalt lead to 40-37 before Coal Ridge’s Hunter Gerber hit a basket and added another basket and a foul shot to tie the game at 42-all with 1:53 on the clock.
Glen again gave the Longhorns a three-point lead when he hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:31 to play.
Ruben Ruiz of Coal Ridge cut the lead to 45-44, and Sollinger nailed a 3-pointer after taking a pass from Gerber to give the Titans the lead at 47-45 with 40 seconds to play.
Glen hit one of two free throws for Basalt with 28 seconds left. A turnover, however, returned the ball to the Titans.
Solinger, who missed the front end of a one-and-one with 17.7 seconds, calmly hit both ends of another one-and-one with 11.7 seconds remaining to seal the 49-46 victory at Basalt.
A 3-pointer by the Longhorns at the buzzer missed.
Gerber led all scorers with 21 points as Coal Ridge improved to 2-3 overall, 1-0 in league play.
Solinger, with two 3-pointers, added eight points for the Titans, as did Dan Schouten.
Gryson Keener led with eight rebounds and five points.
Glen scored 14 to lead Basalt. He also had 12 rebounds as the Longhorns moved to 2-3 overall, 0-1 in league. Pedro River added 10 points for the Longhorns. Guerrero finished with seven.
Glen had a 3-pointer for Basalt along with Cristian Jiminez, who banked in a high, arching 3 at the end of the first quarter, giving the Longhorns an early 11-9 edge.
By halftime, Coal Ridge led 19-18.
“We struggled. We couldn’t hit the bunnies,” Basalt head coach Danny Martinez said. “We played in spurts.”
He said their early shooting woes and tough foul shooting cost the Longhorns.
Basalt converted only 6 of 18 free throws. Coal Ridge was 12 of 17.
“But that happens sometimes. That’s how you learn,” Martinez said, adding he was pleased with the Basalt pressure defense, which forced 19 turnovers.
“That was fun. We’ve been working on (the press),” Martinez said. “Still, 3-point game. we had our chances.”
He said Guerrero brought energy to the gym Tuesday night.
“Richie brought the juice (Tuesday night),” Martinez said.
“We definitely had our chances. But give them credit,” the Basalt coach said. “It was a close game, and we can learn from it.”
In the girls game Tuesday night, Coal Ridge topped Basalt 58-27.
The Titans improved to 1-4 overall, 1-0 in league play.
The Basalt girls fell to 0-5, 0-1 in conference.
The Longhorns return to action Saturday when the Basalt girls host Roaring Fork at 2:30 p.m.
The Basalt boys will host Roaring Fork at 4 p.m. Saturday.
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Basalt’s Hailey Swirbul was officially named to the U.S. cross-country ski team for the upcoming Winter Olympics in China. The 23-year-old will be a first-time Olympian and joins seven other women on the team that was announced Thursday by U.S. Ski and Snowboard. The Olympics begin Feb. 4 in Beijing.