Basalt boys roll in hoops home opener
BASALT ” The only thing that could slow down Basalt’s boys basketball team Friday night was a temperamental scoreboard.
Visiting Olathe did not stand a chance.
After two losses to open the season, the Longhorns ran away with a 57-44 win in their home opener, never trailing after the first minute of the first quarter.
“This is the best thing we could have done,” said junior guard David Gruenefeldt, who led all scorers with 21 points, 12 of which came on 3-pointers. “We needed to come protect our house and we did.”
That’s putting it lightly.
The Pirates scored off the opening tip, but looked flat-footed after that as Basalt, led by Gruenefeldt and Omar Lopez, reeled off the next 10 points. Lopez scored his first points off a pull-up jumper, then added two more off a drive to the basket on Basalt’s next possession. Gruenefeldt followed with the next seven points, finishing two fast breaks before draining his first 3 to give Basalt a 13-5 advantage. The quarter ended with Basalt leading, 17-7.
The Longhorns were not just a two-man show on this night, however. Basalt’s five starters all proved they could score when called upon. Senior post Scott Trantow finished with 11 points, junior Lukas Newberry had six and senior Dean Unglert added nine.
Lopez finished with nine points of his own, but he stood out more for making his teammates look good, dishing out nine assists.
“We try not to single anybody out. We try to play as five playing as one,” said first-year head coach Jon Pettit. ” … We’re just trying to move in the right direction. We want to play hard every night, bring the same intensity every night, practice or a game, and I think if we do that it gives us a good chance to win. We’re young also, so we’ve got to finish games off.”
Basalt certainly did that, after its offense started cold in the third quarter. The slow pace could partly be blamed on the scoreboard, which lost power twice after halftime, forcing the referees to halt the game.
Leading 38-19 at intermission, Basalt was outscored, 8-6, in the third quarter, but responded by opening the fourth on a 10-4 run.
By the time Gruenefeldt sank his second straight 3-pointer midway through the quarter, the competitive portion of the game was over. Basalt led, 56-31, before Pettit emptied his bench. Olathe then scored the next 11 points.
After a 6-point loss to open the season against Rifle, followed by a 17-point loss to 4A Steamboat Springs, Friday’s win was the confidence boost Basalt needed, Gruenefeldt said.
“Our defense, we were just really hungry,” he said. “We played really hard those two games, but we just couldn’t get there. They were harder teams, but tonight I think the intensity was just a lot better.”
Basalt returns to the court at 4 p.m. today against visiting rival Roaring Fork.
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