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Basalt boys, girls stumble at home

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan/Clone-Me.comMontrose defenders swarm Longhorns guard Omar Lopez as he drives to the basket Friday night at Basalt High School.
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BASALT- A setback? Basalt head boys basketball coach Jon Pettit would rather call the last few days a learning experience.

The Longhorns were humbled in Friday night’s loss to unbeaten Aspen. Tuesday, they took another hit to the loss column against 4A Montrose.

Basalt mustered just four points during the first quarter, trailed by 15 at the break and could pull no closer than 10 in the second half. The visiting Indians flexed their muscle inside and in transition to cruise to a 72-44 win – handing the Longhorns their second 28-point defeat in a row.

“It remains to be seen whether this is a setback,” Pettit said afterward. “We were missing a couple of guys and … just ran out of gas.”

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Basalt had won four of five – including victories over then-unbeaten Hotchkiss and Gunnison on Jan. 22 and 23 – before Friday. The Longhorns (5-9 overall, 4-7 3A Western Slope) appeared overmatched again Tuesday.

Montrose jumped out to a 13-4 lead after the first eight minutes, then went to work inside in the second quarter. Bigs Nate Robertson and Brian Davidson combined for 18 points in the opening half for the Indians, who routinely caught Basalt players out of position with crisp passing. Montrose also hit eight of 11 free throws in the half.

The Longhorns’ offense, meanwhile, struggled to find any open looks or open driving lanes against Montrose’s aggressive man-to-man and full-court pressure. Basalt’s 15-point halftime deficit would have been more substantial had it not been for Lukas Newberry, who scored 10 of his team’s first 12 points, or its success behind the arc. the Longhorns, who missed their two free-throw attempts, connected four times from long range before the break.

David Gruenefeldt and Omar Lopez hit back-to-back buckets midway through the third quarter to trim the deficit to 10. Dominique Youngren answered back, burying two wide-open 3s on the Indians’ next two possessions.

“We get within 10, then give up two set-shot 3s. There was no rotation,” Pettit said. “Good teams will knock down those kinds of shots. That is a good basketball team.”

Gruenefeldt and Blake Scherer hit 3s in the final two minutes for Basalt, which trailed by 13 and was in striking distance heading to the fourth.

Things unraveled quickly from there, however.

Cameron Medina and Nathan Hawley completed three-point plays and Johnathan Sierra scored off the glass in the opening two minutes of the final quarter, sparking a 12-2 Indians run that put the game out of reach.

The Longhorns came in surrendering an average of 53 points per game and had allowed 60 or more just twice.

They will look to end this recent skid at 4 p.m. Saturday in Carbondale against Roaring Fork. They lost a 46-44 thriller to the Rams on Jan. 8.

Dane LeBlanc admitted he knew little about Montrose heading into Tuesday’s game. The Basalt head coach could have studied all weekend and still not figured out a way to slow the Indians’ Hanna Bowden.

The 6-foot-1 senior frustrated Longhorns defenders, fans and coaches alike, scoring 12 of 4A Montrose’s first 15 points and outscoring Basalt by herself in the first half. Bowden, who played sparingly in the second half, finished with 20 points to lead the Indians to a lopsided 54-27 win.

“We were [taking a step up in competition], and the girls knew it,” LeBlanc said. “I think that was our downfall.”

That, and Bowden. The center displayed a knack for moving without the basketball, which generated scores of open looks near the basket. She hardly missed, scoring nine points in the opening quarter to give her a 12-6 advantage.

Her seven points highlighted a second quarter in which Montrose outscored the Longhorns (6-8, 6-5), 17-3, and built a 20-point cushion. Basalt’s only basket in the frame came on a wild 3 in the corner from Julia Kapustka.

“Our whole [tendency] is, when things are not going right, we play flat on offense,” LeBlanc said. “I don’t know [how to fix that].”

The Indians opened the second half with a 15-5 run to all but seal the win.

“They have to go out there and leave everything on the floor,” LeBlanc said. “I told them this is a wake-up call.”

The Longhorns visit Roaring Fork at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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