Basalt overcomes Cedaredge, AHS
Aspen Times Staff Writer
The Basalt High School girls basketball team survived a scare Saturday at the Aspen High School Skierdome, and escaped the weekend with a pair of wins that boosted their record to 16-1.
And even though the AHS girls suffered two losses during the team’s so-called “rivalry weekend,” the Skiers are also celebrating a weekend of close calls.
Basalt began its weekend with a Friday night visit to Cedaredge, the top-ranked 3A Western Slope League team. The match-up was billed as a “battle of unbeatens” as both Basalt and Cedaredge had unblemished 7-0 records in league play entering the game.
But Cedaredge, previously 15-1 overall, was handed its second loss of the season when the Longhorns pulled out a 71-56 win.
“After the first quarter we were up by three,” BHS coach Debbie Alcorta said. “By that point on, we were pretty much in control the whole way. It’s very interesting, because Cedaredge is a mirror image to us – they’re fast, they’re physical, and we run the same press … but our press destroyed them.”
High scorers for Friday’s game included Mariah Mulcahy with 24 points, Autumn Caughern with 11, Lauren Redfern with 10, Molly McGrath with 9, and Steph Kemp and Christy Thompson with 8.
On Saturday, BHS was ready for another win on the road as they traveled to the AHS Skierdome. And while Basalt was fresh off a blow-out win, AHS was still smarting from a loss the night before.
On Friday night, Aspen fell to their downvalley rival, Carbondale’s Roaring Fork, 59-46.
“We just had a terrible start – the first quarter, they were up 15-6,” AHS coach Lance Finkbeiner said. “It was like we spotted them 10 points, and then hung with them the rest of the game. Besides the slow start, I was pleased with some things we did – we came back after an awful beginning. “
Finkbeiner said the Skiers managed their biggest goal Friday night – shutting down Roaring Fork’s top two players. Aspen players Lizzie Suiter and Mur Hale also combined for 37 points on the night.
“We just had too many turnovers,” Finkbeiner said. “We didn’t take care of the ball, and we beat ourselves more than anything. But Lizzie ended up with 26 points and I think 11 rebounds, and Mur finally hit some threes in the second half that kind of closed the gap.”
AHS was looking to make up for the loss Saturday, when the Skiers led Basalt 7-5 by the end of the first half.
“That’s probably the first time in two years where the girls were not scared to play Basalt, because we were not expected to do well against them,” Finkbeiner said of the early lead.
AHS surprised their opponents Saturday, holding BHS to a mere 15-12 lead at the half. Aspen spent most of the first half frustrating BHS players by keeping the ball out of the hands of top shooters, Finkbeiner said.
“They hadn’t seen that before this season,” he said. “They were frustrated; they’re used to putting up lots of points, but there was not one three-point shot in that whole game. We just went in with the attitude that we need to control the game, and we did a good job of it.”
BHS was not as happy about Aspen’s stall offense.
“I was really disappointed that they would run with a stall offense, number one, and only let one girl score,” Alcorta said. “I felt bad that all the Aspen girls didn’t get to play.”
Alcorta said the Longhorns seemed to handle Aspen’s game plan well.
“All I know is that my girls took the challenge,” she said. “For me, that is a huge success. It’s absolutely incredible that we had the ball for probably 10 minutes, and Aspen probably had it for 22, and we beat them.”
Basalt held Aspen to only four points in the third quarter, and emerged with a 16-23 lead in the fourth. However, Suiter’s fourth-quarter contributions, including three buckets and 4-out-of-6 free throws, pushed AHS within four points of the now top-ranked Longhorns down the stretch. Nevertheless, Basalt managed a 34-30 win.
Suiter finished as high scorer for the Skiers, with 25 of their 30 points. Caughern finished with 13 points for BHS, the only Longhorn in double digits.
“We were disappointed, but at the same time, it takes a very disciplined team to do what we did,” Finkbeiner said. “They [BHS] were not patient at all, and we took advantage of that.”
Next up, both teams head into their final week of play before the district tournament later this month. Aspen hosts Olathe Friday, then travels to Paonia for its regular-season finale on Saturday. Meanwhile, Basalt hosts Eagle Valley and West Grand Friday and Saturday, respectively, in its last two games of the regular season.
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Peter Arnold’s playing career ended after high school, but his time on the ice continues a few decades later. A longtime USA Hockey official and new Aspen resident, Arnold is searching for the next generation of hockey referees among the youth ranks here in the Roaring Fork Valley.