Basalt girls prep for postseason run |

Basalt girls prep for postseason run

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

BASALT Carolyn Compton spoke in a muffled tone Sunday – the direct result of a lingering cold.The Basalt girls basketball coach hopes her team makes a loud statement in the weeks to come.The Longhorns, last year’s 3A state tournament runner-up, struggled through injuries and illness in the final two weeks of the regular season, posting a mediocre 2-2 record. They rebounded in Saturday’s regular-season finale, however, with a 65-33 victory over Cedaredge. The win clinched Basalt’s second outright 3A Western Slope title in three years.”I’m confident in this group of girls that, once they all get back together, they’ll start flowing like they did early,” said Compton, whose team hosts Aspen at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the district tournament’s opening round. “I’m not too nervous. I can only control so much.”The Longhorns (16-3 overall) have been reigned in of late because of illness and injuries to a few of their major contributors. Senior Alia Munger has a sore ankle, and junior Heather Nemiec’s season-long battle with back problems has persisted. Guard Kat Fitzpatrick continues to suffer through a wrist injury on her shooting hand that has hindered her offensive production but has not kept her off the court. The senior has become accustomed to playing hurt this season; she chased a loose ball into the bleachers in the season opener against 4A Falcon, sustaining a gash to her head.”Her wrist’s been bothering her, but I think she had 10 assists in both games [this past weekend] – that’s good stuff,” Compton said. Basalt lost to Hotchkiss, 58-55, on Friday. “I hope [she’ll be back to 100 percent soon]. The minute she thinks the pain is gone, she falls on it because she’s a hustler. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”Injuries have provided other Longhorns with increased playing time. Two players – Hailey Guglielmo and Ashley Soucie – took full advantage Saturday. Guglielmo, a recent addition to the starting lineup, led all scorers with 19 points and Soucie added 10 off the bench.”It’s nice to see some of those surprises. I know they had it in them, but they don’t always have the opportunity to show it,” Compton said. “It’s fun to sit and watch and see that happen.”Compton is hoping for similar contributions when her team begins postseason play against familiar foe Aspen. Skiers coach Jeremy Haack, whose team dropped two games by a combined 59 points to the Longhorns this season, said Sunday he’s hoping his team can pull off what many feel is impossible.”Nobody in Colorado thinks we’re going to win, except for me and 11 girls,” said Haack, whose team picked up its first win since Dec. 6 on Friday against Cedaredge. “I think we played two of our better games in league play against Basalt. They’re our big rival. Both teams know each other and both teams want to beat each other. … We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”The Longhorns are gunning for consecutive district championships. Last year’s convincing victory over Cedaredge in Palisade helped them secure a top seed in the state tournament and the chance to host a regional. The Longhorns went 7-1 down the stretch last season, including lopsided regional victories over Eaton and Hotchkiss, then wins over Denver Christian and Faith Christian at Moby Arena in Fort Collins. The lone blemish came in a championship-game loss to seventh-seeded Machebeuf.That experience, coupled with its recent struggles, should do nothing but help Basalt this postseason, Compton said. “I think it’s hard going through the first half and really handling everybody fairly easily and, at any age, keeping that intensity,” she added. “We saw some teams playing outside of themselves, which was exciting for them and unfortunate for us. … The two losses we had put some things in perspective.”I told the girls it’s only a bad loss if you choose not to learn from it.”

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