Basalt boys hold off Cedaredge |

Basalt boys hold off Cedaredge

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT ” Lukas Newberry’s shooting stroke was unsightly. But the result? A thing of beauty.

The Basalt boys basketball team’s junior reserve stepped to the free throw line Saturday with 48 seconds remaining and his team leading Cedaredge, 43-41. Newberry calmly sank both attempts to stretch the Longhorns’ lead to five, then took a charge on the ensuing Bruins possession to all but seal victory. Basalt, which led by as many as 12, held on for the 48-41 win ” its second of the season and second in 3A Western Slope play.

“There was a lot of pressure, but we really needed this win,” Newberry said. “We practice free throws a lot just for those situations. It really helps.”

It showed. As Cedaredge attempted to close the gap in the final minutes, it resorted to fouling the Longhorns and making them earn points at the line. The plan backfired, as Basalt hit 13 of 16 free throws in the deciding quarter.

Guard Omar Lopez was 10-of-10 from the charity stripe in the final eight minutes.

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“The line is where you either win or lose, and we knocked them down today. That’s the name of the game,” Longhorns head coach Jon Pettit said. “Our offense goes in spurts ” we’re young. We need to knock down our free throws and play great defense to be successful.”

It looked as though Basalt would rely on its offense to halt its four-game skid. Scott Trantow hit two buckets in the paint, Lopez scored on a drive to the basket and Dean Unglert hit a jumper as the Longhorns jumped out to an early 8-3 lead. David Gruenefeldt hit a 15-footer, then a 3-pointer from the wing in the final minute of the first, and Basalt led, 15-10, heading into the second.

Unglert nailed a 3 from the corner in the early stages of the second to give the Longhorns a 12-point cushion. But Basalt went cold from there.

Cedaredge did just the opposite. The Bruins went on a 7-0 run, one highlighted by an acrobatic up-and-under move from Cade Sweendy and a 3 and a long two from Travis Eason.

Gruenefeldt gave the Longhorns a little breathing room with 40 seconds remaining before halftime when he absorbed a bump, hit the shot and the ensuing free throw. Cedaredge closed with a spurt, however. Anthony Marah alertly pulled down a rebound on a missed free throw and beat the buzzer with a shot off the glass, pulling the Bruins to within four at 25-21 at the break.

The two teams combined for just 12 points during a defensive third quarter, and Basalt took an eight-point lead into the fourth.

The Longhorns were tested early and often during the final eight minutes. Sweendy twice scored underneath to pull Cedaredge to within two in the first four minutes. Eason picked off a pass and scored in transition and, after two Trantow misses at the line, Sweendy finished on the offensive glass to cut the Basalt lead to 43-41 with one minute remaining.

Newberry took over from there. First, he hit two free throws, the last hitting nothing but net. Then, he stepped in front of a driving Kreston Keehne to draw the charge. With 30 seconds to play, he hit 1-of-2 from the line to stretch the lead to 46-41.

Lopez hit two more free throws with nine seconds remaining to seal the Longhorns’ first win since Dec. 12.

“We just really wanted it more than them,” Newberry said.

“We’re off the snide. Now, we have to start linking some of these together,” Pettit added. “We’re still living. We’ll see what happens.”

Basalt girls basketball coach Carolyn Compton said her team tripped and stumbled in Friday night’s lopsided loss to Hotchkiss.

The Longhorns are on solid footing now. The Basalt defense stifled the Cedaredge offense Saturday, holding the Bruins to just eight first-half points. While their offense was sporadic, the Longhorns were effective enough to pull out the 48-38 victory and move to 3-2 in the 3A Western Slope.

“The girls picked up from [Friday] and continue to go forward,” Compton said. “They love playing basketball and love having fun, and when they put those two things together, it usually works out well.”

The Longhorns (3-5) surrendered 70 points to the Bulldogs on Friday. Less than 24 hours later, they were back to their ball-hawking ways, pressuring Cedaredge all over the court for four quarters. The Bruins connected just once from the field during the second quarter, and just twice in the final 11 minutes of the first half.

Basalt started strong on offense, jumping out to an 8-2 lead in the first four-plus minutes. Mackenzie Buck scored twice in the paint, Ashley Soucie converted on a drive and hit two free throws during the stretch.

The Longhorns went cold from there, though, going scoreless until the final seconds of the quarter when Buck scored in transition, stretching her team’s lead to 10-6. The sporadic offense continued in a second quarter in which Basalt hit just two field goals. Still, the Longhorns took a 19-8 lead into the break. It could’ve been much larger had they not missed five of their seven free throw attempts.

Cedaredge increased its defensive pressure in the third quarter and pulled to within six when, after forcing a Basalt turnover with three minutes remaining, Amber Farr drained a jumper just inside the 3-point arc.

Melissa Stewart, the Longhorns’ lone senior starter, responded with back-to-back 3s to stretch the lead to 29-19. She and teammate Nicole Booth hit consecutive 3s in the opening minute of the fourth and Basalt pulled ahead, 38-26.

The lead ballooned to as much as 20 in the final seven minutes as a Longhorns squad that looked lost on offense earlier was now running seamless plays and converting multiple open looks.

“It usually comes down to me begging them ‘Please, with sugar on top. And a cherry,'” Compton joked about her inconsistent offense. “I believe they can do it. … It comes down to them understanding and having confidence. Once they do, they’ll keep focused.”

Stewart led all scorers with 16 points, and Soucie and Buck combined for 17 for Basalt, which visits rival Aspen at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

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