Basalt soccer earns home playoff game | AspenTimes.com
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Basalt soccer earns home playoff game

Nate PetersonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

BASALT Basalt’s soccer team didn’t win the regular season title, but it arguably won the best draw among the four playoff teams from its region when the 32-team 3A state bracket was released Sunday.The Longhorns, after finishing runner-up to Hotchkiss in Region 7, earned the 12th seed overall in the 3A bracket and will host No. 21 Crested Butte (11-3) on Wednesday.If Basalt (9-4-2) wins it home opener, its second round opponent would likely be No. 5 Weld Central, which finished the regular season with an 11-3 record with one of 3A’s softest schedules.Eighth-seeded Hotchkiss, in turn, would likely earn an unenviable matchup with No. 9 Faith Christian – from one of the state’s best regional groupings – if it wins its playoff opener against Middle Park.Faith Christian finished the regular season 5-7-3 overall, a losing record that is misleading considering five of Faith Christian’s losses came against 4A and 5A teams and the other two came against perennial 3A state semifinalists Denver Christian and Kent Denver.Basalt coach John McDermott said his team’s singular focus this week is getting past Crested Butte (11-3), but acknowledged that the Longhorns’ draw was favorable.”I knew we’d come in somewhere around where we came in,” he said. “They don’t look upon the Western Slope anyhow, but all the games we lost, they were against good teams. I wish [Hotchkiss] all the luck, but they got a pretty tough bracket.”No. 17 Aspen, which earned the third playoff berth from Region 7, will open the postseason on the road Wednesday at No. 16 Ridgway (9-0-1). Aspen (9-5-1) just missed hosting the game by one seed.On paper, the two teams look evenly matched.”It’s a doable game,” Skiers coach Junior Sutherland said. “We haven’t played Ridgway, but they’re in the same league as Crested Butte, who we beat in a scrimmage. We can give them a game over there and if we win, then we get No. 1 Colorado Springs Christian, which is 15-0.”From playoff experience, Sutherland also said that he believes Basalt earned a more favorable draw than region champion Hotchkiss.”Hotchkiss, they’ve got a home game which should be easy for them, but then they get Faith Christian,” Sutherland said. “You never want to play Faith Christian early. They’re a tough playoff team.”Sutherland and McDermott both subscribe to a wide-held belief that a Front Range bias always manifests itself in the state-seeding process. Acknowledging that, both coaches said the bracket had few surprises.Sutherland said he likes the new format which seeds 32 teams instead of 16, but felt the rule that all region champions earn a home playoff game should be amended.Case in point: No. 23 Lake County will host No. 10 Peak to Peak and No. 27 Frontier Academy will host No. 6 James Irwin as a result of winning weak regions.”It should be that if you’re ranked in the top 16, absolutely you should host a home game,” Sutherland said. “If you’re not, well, that’s the way it goes.”Roaring Fork was the last team to earn a state berth from Region 7, earning the 31st seed overall. The Rams will play at No. 2 Denver Christian on Wednesday.npeterson@aspentimes.com


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