Basalt rallies to capture state consolation title |

Basalt rallies to capture state consolation title

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Centuris's Idula Espinosa scrambles with Basalts XXX XXX after the ball during the Colorado State Championship Tournament in Colorado Springs , Co. Jacob N. Ware photo.

It’s not the trophy the Basalt High School girls basketball team had hoped to bring home this weekend, but it’s a trophy nonetheless.

After a loss in the first round of the Class 3A state basketball tournament at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs on Thursday, the BHS girls rallied and collected two consecutive wins to take the tournament’s “consolation championship” title. The Longhorns returned home Sunday afternoon with a fifth-place designation, as well as a few individual honors.

After Thursday’s loss – a heartbreaker that saw BHS nemesis Centauri, the team that knocked the Longhorns out of contention last season, win in overtime – the girls were ready to get serious about the tournament, senior Stephanie Kemp said.

“Coming off that tough overtime loss to Centauri, I don’t think anyone was ready to leave Colorado Springs without one good win on that floor,” she said. “Our goal going into state was to win a championship, and we thought, ‘Well, the consolation championship is second best.'”

Basalt finished its season at 25-2, marking the second straight year Basalt has lost only two games.

The Longhorns met their goal Friday with a 51-39 win over Manitou Springs (20-4) in the first round of the tournament’s consolation bracket. According to Basalt fans, one of the high points of the game included a bucket by senior Pam Mayer late in the fourth quarter. Mayer hasn’t seen a great deal of floor time this season, and the basket proved to be her last as a Longhorn.

High scorers for the game included junior Mariah Mulcahy with 15 points, followed by sophomores Lauren Redfern and Autumn Caughern with 14 and 13, respectively. Senior Molly McGrath, who was later named to the Class 3A all-tournament team, dished out 10 assists.

Friday’s win pushed the BHS girls into the consolation finals on Saturday, where the team faced Arvada’s Faith Christian (23-3). The Eagles were knocked from state championship contention in the tournament’s first round by Estes Park, but won their first consolation game 37-34 Friday over Denver Christian.

After Basalt’s win over Manitou Springs at 8:45 a.m. Friday, Kemp said the entire team stuck around for the Faith Christian-Denver Christian game to check out their opponents.

“We watched them [Faith Christian] play Denver Christian, and we picked out a few of their good players,” she said.

Kemp said the Longhorns decided to keep their eyes on a high-scoring point guard and a speedy freshman. The strategy worked Saturday morning as BHS took a 13-point lead to end the first half.

“We just totally dominated every aspect of the game and really played as a team,” Kemp said.

The Longhorns finished the tournament, their first state appearance in nearly 13 years, with a 53-38 victory in the consolation championship. Mulcahy led the scoring with 12 points, followed by Redfern with 11, Kemp with 10 points and seven steals and McGrath with eight points, five assists and seven rebounds. Senior Christie Thompson contributed with six rebounds in her final BHS game.

“We ended on a good note, so I think it’s really awesome to come away with a trophy,” Kemp said. “We know we played to the best of our ability. It’s unfortunate that we had to lose to Centauri and we couldn’t make it any further, but to not have been there for 13 years and to take the consolation championship is pretty exciting.”

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