Basalt boys basketball season ends with loss to Kent Denver in 3A quarterfinals |

Basalt boys basketball season ends with loss to Kent Denver in 3A quarterfinals

Brian Miller | Special to The Aspen Times

DENVER It was a walk the Basalt High School boys basketball team did not want to make, but the love and support of a strong community made it a little easier.

One by one, as the Longhorn players and coaches left the locker room after a heartbreaking loss in the Class 3A state quarterfinals Thursday night, they walked down a short hallway outside Hamilton Gymnasium on the University of Denver campus where family and friends were waiting.

Each player and coach got a big ovation from the Basalt faithful, who embraced the team in its moment of pain.

“There may be a winning team on the scoreboard, but the whole Basalt community – which I’ve been a part of in snippets as I visit – they’re very proud of their kids,” said Kent Denver coach Todd Schayes after his Sun Devils rallied for a 56-54 victory in the Great 8 round.

“I just don’t think you can say ‘one team won, one team lost.’ I think time just ran out for Basalt.”

Playing in the quarterfinals for the first time in 28 years, the Longhorns (21-4) appeared to be on their way to reaching the Final 4. Basalt closed the third quarter with an 18-6 run to take a 46-36 lead into the fourth quarter.

But top-seeded Kent Denver (22-3) – which will play Faith Christian on Friday in the semis – refused to go away. A 3-pointer by Rory Buck sparked a 20-8 surge in the fourth quarter, and a basket that had been very friendly to Basalt in the third quarter suddenly seemed to grow a lid.

Time and again the Longhorns drove the lane or took short jumpers, only to have the ball bounce off the rim and into the hands of the nearest Sun Devil.

“Our momentum just shifted, and I think we played a little uptight in the fourth quarter,” Basalt coach Danny Martinez said. “It just got to us, and here we are.”

After Buck put Kent Denver up 51-50 with one minute, 44 seconds remaining, Max Mehlman and Coby Gold each hit a free throw to push the lead to three points in the final 20 seconds. Michael Glen, who had a game-high 31 points, made it a one-point game, but Gold hit two free throws on the other end.

The Sun Devils fouled Glen, rather than allow him to take a potential game-tying 3-pointer, and the senior knocked down both free throws to cut the lead to 55-54 with 5.8 seconds to go.

Kent’s Benan Ersek missed his first free throw on the other end but connected on the second, and Basalt’s late heave down the court was unable to find its mark.

“I wish I could tell you it was something that we did or I did as a coach or that Basalt didn’t do,” Schayes said. “I think it was just a matter of we made one more play than they did today.”

Gold scored 21 points to lead Kent Denver and James Doyle added 14 points.

Justin Henderson had seven points for Basalt. With the consolation bracket a thing of the past, the loss marked the final game for the team’s numerous seniors.

“I’ve had these kids since like eighth grade, and my seniors are gone,” Martinez said. “But they played really tough. They had a good game.

“They’re amazing kids. I’m really proud of my boys.”

Martinez pointed to the experience factor as being something the team could take away from the trip to Denver.

“Basalt hasn’t been up here in a long time,” Martinez said. “It’s that experience for these boys, to get a little taste of it – including myself, because I always wanted to get here.”

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