Basalt girls advance to Great 8 |

Basalt girls advance to Great 8

Scott CondonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times
Paul Conrad | The Aspen Times

BASALT A little inspiration at halftime went a long way in the Basalt girls basketball game Saturday.The top-seeded Longhorns opened the second half with a 13-0 run to break open a close game against Kent Denver. Basalt earned a return trip to the 3A Great 8 with a convincing 56-37 victory.It will play Colorado Springs Christian, which beat St. Mary’s on Saturday, in Thursday’s regional final. The Longhorns weren’t able to crank up their running game during the first half. Kent Denver controlled the tempo in the second quarter and turned the game into a half-court slugfest.Basalt’s star center, senior Dayne Toney, picked up her third foul about three minutes before the half. She was visibly frustrated when she took the bench to prevent further foul trouble.Basalt scraped to a 27-21 halftime lead, but clearly lost the momentum in the second quarter. Whatever occurred in the locker room at the half fired them up.”They tell me I’m inspirational at halftime – that is what the girls tell me,” said Longhorns’ head coach Carolyn Compton. “We talked about cleaning up our defense a little bit because that seemed to be our slow and our weak spot, which it usually isn’t, so that caught me off guard a little bit.”The senior-fueled Longhorns made the adjustments their coach wanted. They immediately reaped the dividends from tough defense and a fast pace to start the third quarter.Senior Kat Fitzpatrick started the scoring in the third with a transition basket and a few minutes later scored off a steal. Toney poured in seven points in the first five minutes of the quarter. Lickety-split, the Longhorns opened their advantage to 40-21.”We play a fast tempo game and when we [face] teams that play slow tempo, there’s always a few quarters where it’s hard mixing between the two,” Fitzpatrick said.

“That’s where we have to step up, take control and play our game. We finally did that in the second half and just came out and shot really well.”

Compton said her players did a better job playing their style of defense in the second half. The Longhorns learned a valuable lesson heading into the state tournament – they can beat a good team even when they cannot play their tempo for an entire game.

“We played a little slower today but we made it work,” Compton said.The Longhorns’ attacking style also put their foe into foul trouble. Kent Denver’s Mira McClinon, a force in the paint on both ends of the court, picked up her fourth foul with nearly three minutes left in the third quarter. She stayed on the bench for the next six minutes.Fitzpatrick made her last home game a memorable one with a game-high 16 points. She was shaking off illness that might have slowed her down in Friday night’s victory.”This was such a big game I couldn’t let that get in the way, so I tried to put it behind me and play as hard as I could,” Fitzpatrick said.Toney added 13 for the Longhorns. Junior Melissa Stewart scored 10 points and senior Emily Peetz had six. Seniors Hailey Guglielmo and Alia Munger had three and four points, respectively.

When the game was secure in the fourth quarter, Compton took the seniors out of the game for a final ovation from their home fans. The victory boosted their season record to 21-3.The seniors now get to lead the team in the state tournament at Fort Collins. The Longhorns were the runner-up last season.”Before the game, we just said 32 minutes before state,” Fitzpatrick