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Basalt boys hoops pick up first 3A Slope win

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – Basalt guard Blake Scherer admitted that the feeling was unfamiliar.

The junior and the rest of the Longhorns sure could get used to this, however. Scherer helped spark a run early in the second quarter Friday against visiting Cedaredge, and Basalt maintained its lead down the stretch en route to a 53-45 win – the squad’s first since Dec. 4’s season opener.

“This was the step we were hoping for. We’ll see what happens now,” Longhorns head coach Jon Pettit said. “We played together. We need to keep that effort up.”

A string of six losses, both by small and large margins, followed Dec. 4’s two-point win over Rifle in Carbondale. Last weekend alone, Basalt missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have given it a win over rival Roaring Fork, then scored just 33 points in a humbling 25-point loss at Coal Ridge.

Despite the inconsistent play, Pettit said he expected a strong effort Friday against the Bruins. He got just that.

Six different players scored during the game’s first five-plus minutes as the Longhorns jumped out to a 13-8 advantage. Cedaredge buried three 3-pointers – two from Alec Zamarippa and one from Burke Lowry – to keep pace. The Bruins pulled to within one at 16-15 when Michael Mackey corralled an offensive rebound and scored in the final minute.

Lowry gave Cedaredge its first lead when he converted on a drive in the opening moments of the second quarter. It did not last.

After David Gruenefeldt hit two free throws, Scherer hit a scoop shot under the hoop, then nailed a 3 to stretch the Basalt lead to six, prompting a Bruins timeout 5 minutes, 30 seconds before halftime.

“You know, I let the game come to me and took what they gave me,” said Scherer, who scored 10 of his 14 points in the opening half. “After that, we had a lot of energy.”

Cedaredge (4-4) trimmed its deficit to two when Cade Sweeney hit two free throws 2:13 before the break. Much like they did the entire night, the Longhorns had an answer.

Gruenefeldt scored in transition after a steal, Jason Martellaro scored on the offensive glass and Scherer hit a free throw for Basalt, which led 32-26 heading to the third quarter.

“We played with confidence out there,” Pettit said.

The Longhorns showed poise during a fourth quarter in which the Bruins increased their defensive pressure in an attempt to climb back into the game.

Martellaro all but put the game out of reach with about four minutes remaining when, after Lowry picked off a pass and scored to cut the lead to eight, he absorbed a bump, scored underneath and finished off a three-point play.

Basalt did provide Cedaredge with a glimmer of hope, however, because of its struggles at the free throw line. The Longhorns missed 12 of 19 from the line in the final eight minutes.

But when it mattered most, Basalt made them count. After Chaunce Lindley pulled the Bruins to within six after a long 3 from the wing, Scherer nailed two free throws with 21 seconds to play.

Cedaredge could pull no closer, as the Longhorns secured their first league win in their sixth try. Martellaro finished with 11 points, and Gruenefeldt and Omar Lopez each added 10.

“Hopefully this will be the start,” Scherer said.

“We have to keep going to work,” Pettit added. “We’re on the road again [today], and that will be big. They’re all big when you start out this bad.”

Basalt visits Olathe at 4 p.m. Saturday, then travels to Grand Valley at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

This was the not the effort Basalt coach Dane LeBlanc was hoping for on the eve of his team’s trip to take on undefeated Olathe.

The Longhorns looked out of sync offensively from the start in Friday’s game with visiting Cedaredge. Things would get no better for Basalt, which scored just 17 points through three quarters and could not keep pace down the stretch en route to a 41-27 loss.

The Longhorns (4-4 overall, 4-2 3A Western Slope) came in averaging more than 47 points per game. They had not been held below 40.

“We let ourselves get frustrated and couldn’t pick ourselves back up,” LeBlanc said. “Offensively, things just weren’t coming together for us.”

Or Cedaredge, at least at the outset. Basalt missed five of six from the foul line in the opening quarter and scored just five points – all from Mackenzie Buck – yet trailed by only one heading into the second.

The Longhorns failed to make a field goal during a second quarter in which they could muster just seven points. Jheri Gates and Jamie Deal each scored two baskets in the quarter for the Bruins, who led 14-12 at the break.

“Coming out of the locker room at the half, I was still confident we could pull it out,” LeBlanc said. “The looks we had weren’t falling, and they were a physical team. I think that rattled our players.”

Cedaredge all but put the game away with a 13-2 run in the final 6 minutes, 51 seconds of the third quarter.

Basalt trailed by as many as 15 down the stretch. It compounded its chances for a comeback by committing 26 turnovers, LeBlanc said. Consequently, the Longhorns were handed their second loss in as many games since winning four straight from Dec. 11 to Jan. 8.

Things will get no easier Saturday, when Basalt visits Olathe, a team currently ranked eighth in the state. Tip-off is slated for 2:30 p.m.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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