Basalt girls outlast Rams, log first win |

Basalt girls outlast Rams, log first win

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen TimesBasalt junior Ashley Soucie looks to pass while a Roaring Fork player defends during the second quarter Saturday at Basalt High School. The Longhorns won, 59-55

BASALT ” Ashley Soucie strode to the foul line, the game resting in her capable hands.

Just one minute, 30 seconds remained in Saturday’s girls basketball game against visiting Roaring Fork when the Basalt junior was bumped underneath and sent to the stripe to shoot two. The Longhorns trailed, 55-54.

She was admittedly nervous, but, with the team’s first win hanging in the balance, she had only one option.

“It all came down to the fact that I had to put them in for my team,” Soucie said. “I was thinking to myself that I can’t count on the older girls to do it for me anymore. … A lot of people would say no they don’t [want to be in that position], but I do. I like being the one making a change in the game.”

She did just that. Soucie’s first attempt rattled home to tie the game. The second hit nothing but net as Basalt reclaimed the lead. On the ensuing Rams possession, Soucie’s pressure defense forced a turnover. Teammate Nicole Booth scored underneath and Melissa Stewart sealed the win with a free throw with 10 seconds remaining to give the reigning 3A Western Slope champions a hard-fought, dramatic 59-55 victory ” their first in four games this season.

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“I believe in my girls. They haven’t been doing everything right, but I’m not doing everything right, either,” Longhorns head coach Carolyn Compton said. “I’m so used to running at a high speed. Maybe I need to slow down and take these girls under my wing a little tighter. … I was proud of them today.”

Basalt (1-3) shook off any lingering rust from Friday’s 34-point home loss to Olathe in the early going, as the two teams traded baskets during a tight and entertaining first half. The Longhorns held an 18-15 lead after one quarter, but could do little to slow Roaring Fork guard Maria Flores. The senior erupted for nine points in the second half to give her team the 32-31 lead. She scored 16 in the first half and finished with a game-high 23.

Undaunted, the Longhorns looked to pull away in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Stewart nailed a 3 from the wing on the opening possession, sparking an 8-0 run that gave Basalt a 39-32 advantage. Stewart, Basalt’s lone senior, nailed a 3 right before the buzzer to give the Long horns a 46-38 lead after three.

The Rams weren’t about to give in just yet. After trading buckets during the opening minutes of the fourth, junior Alli Zeigel hit two free throws then nailed a 3 from the corner to pull Roaring Fork to within three. Flo res pushed the Rams ahead, 53-52, when she calmly sank two free throws with 2:32 remain ing, prompting a Basalt timeout.

On the ensuing possession, Longhorns junior Mackenzie Buck wasted little time putting her team out in front with an athletic move and off-balance jumper in the paint.

Junior Shea Courtney answered with two free throws to give the Rams a 55-54 lead with 1:48 to play.

Twelve second later, it was Soucie’s time to shine. She came through when Basalt needed her most.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking, but I told myself I had to make them,” Soucie said. “And that turnover was the best feeling ever. It makes all the defense drills in practice worth it.”

After Soucie’s two free throws and forced turnover, Stewart went to the line with 22 seconds to play, but missed the front end of a one and- one. No matter. The ball hit the rim, then a Roaring Fork player before going out of bounds. Booth shook free on the ensuing in-bounds play and scored off the glass to stretch the lead to three.

After yet another forced turnover, Stewart was sent to the line with a chance to redeem herself with 2.4 seconds to play. She all but sealed the game with a swish. Stewart finished with a team-high 17 points, while Soucie added 14.

Now, the young Longhorns can exhale ” at least until Tuesday, when they travel to play 4A Montrose.

“This is going to help their confidence,” Compton said. “These girls decided to take a look at themselves and find something to work on. They all did that tonight. It was a great game.”

“Now we know what we have and what to do with ourselves when we go out and play,” Soucie added. “We won today because we worked well as a team.”

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