Basalt girls hoops on a state tournament mission
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Before the season even started, the Basalt High girls basketball team set a goal of getting to the state tournament.
Considering last season, when Basalt finished 22-2 with a young team but just missed the cut for the eight-team state tourney, it was a reasonable goal.
Now, at 22-1, Basalt has collected the Class 3A Western Slope League title as well as the league tournament championship and stands on the brink of accomplishing the goal.
At 7 p.m. tonight at the BHS Bighouse, No. 4 seed Basalt hosts No. 13 Pagosa Springs (17-5 overall) for the right to advance to the Class 3A state tournament, slated for Thursday through Saturday at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
On Tuesday, Basalt advanced to the sweet 16 from the 32-team field with a 68-51 win over No. 29 Denver Lutheran.
“They’re playing incredible basketball right now,” said first-year Basalt coach Debbie Alcorta. “I think Tuesday night was the best they’ve played all year.
“We’ve had signs of it all coming together, but it hasn’t been great all around,” the coach continued. “But now they’re taking everything they’ve learned and they’re putting it together for all four quarters. They’re taking it to a different level.”
With five players who are averaging more than 10 points a game, Basalt appears destined for postseason greatness. Junior guard Mariah Mulcahy leads the team with 14 points per game. Mulcahy also leads all scorers in Class 3A in free-throw percentage at 84 percent. Sophomore Autumn Caughern is averaging 12 points a game, as well as three blocks, while the team’s leading rebounder, sophomore Lauren Redfern, is contributing 11 points per game. Seniors Stephanie Kemp and Molly McGrath are averaging 10 points a game, and McGrath, the team’s ringleader at point guard, leads all classes in assists with more than 140 on the season.
“They started the season with one goal, and that was going to the state tournament,” Alcorta said. “Winning league was one step, so was the district tournament, but you have to take it one game at a time, and they’ve done that in order to get us to where we are right now. They know what the goal is and they’re focused on getting it.”
Alcorta said Pagosa Springs features two strong forwards who can do damage inside. “They like to get it to those two girls because they’re very good with their backs to the basket,” she said.
For Tuesday’s game at the BHS Bighouse, Alcorta said the gym was packed with enthusiastic fans. She expects the same tonight.
“The student body, the community, they were going crazy for our girls,” she said. “That’s what it’s supposed to be like every time, but I’m thinking it’s going to be even crazier Friday.
“The girls are a bit nervous,” Alcorta continued. “If they weren’t nervous, then I’d be concerned. But they’re confident in their abilities and they’re focused on the goal.”
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