Basalt’s consolation? A fifth-place title |

Basalt’s consolation? A fifth-place title

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

FORT COLLINS, Colo. Fifth place never felt so good.Saturday’s consolation bracket final at Moby Arena in Fort Collins marked the last time Basalt’s five seniors took the court together. They walked off winners. Three players scored in double figures, the bench made a strong contribution and the Longhorns overcame another mediocre shooting performance. They stretched their lead to as many as 10 in the final quarter and hung on for an emotional 62-56 victory.Last year’s state tournament ended in tears after Basalt fell in the state title game. This year’s return trip elicited tears of a much different kind.”I’m happy our last game together could be a win,” a red-eyed Kat Fitzpatrick said.”It’s hard to say goodbye,” fellow senior Emily Peetz added, “but it’s good that it ended here and not on our home court.”Seniors Fitzpatrick, Peetz, Dayne Toney, Hailey Guglielmo and Alia Munger made this farewell performance one to remember. Munger controlled the opening tip and immediately fired a pass to Guglielmo, who finished underneath just five seconds into the game. Munger followed with a smooth jumper and Fitzpatrick scored on a drive to give the Longhorns a 6-0 lead after one minute.”I expected them to come out like that,” Basalt coach Carolyn Compton said. “I didn’t expect that lull soon after, but they kept their composure. That’s what these girls are all about.”The Demons answered with seven straight points to seize the lead for the first of two times in the game. Guglielmo then scored underneath and Fitzpatrick hit two free throws as the game settled into a physical, tight contest. No team led by more than five in the first 19 minutes.Basalt had little answer for 6-foot-2 center Dana Blackwell, who scored 12 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in the first half. The junior tied the game at 22 midway through the second, then put the Demons ahead briefly at 26-25. She finished with a game-high 25 points and 17 rebounds.The Longhorns countered with balance. Peetz hit a jumper, Fitzpatrick finished off the glass in transition, then Guglielmo went 1-of-2 from the line in the first half’s final 1 minute, 37 seconds. The 5-0 spurt gave Basalt a 30-26 advantage at the break.The Longhorns shot just 34 percent in the first half – and 29 percent for the game – but showed glimpses of the transition game that helped them win 3A Western Slope, district and regional titles. They scored 14 points off 12 Demons turnovers in the first half. The bench chipped in, too, with 10 points. Combined, Basalt’s reserves outscored Buena Vista’s, 15-2.Blackwell pulled down an offensive rebound and scored, then hit a free throw to cut Basalt’s lead to 32-30 with 6:10 remaining in the third. Less than two minutes later, Peetz, much like she did in Friday’s game against Ellicott, nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to stretch the lead back to six. Her second 3 of the quarter – and seventh in the last two games – helped the Longhorns pull ahead, 48-41, with 1:05 to play. Blackwell beat the buzzer to trim the deficit to five, but the Demons could get no closer in the final quarter.Peetz finished with 13 points, Guglielmo added 12 and Fitzpatrick led the team with 15. Toney struggled in her final game, missing 15 of her 17 shot attempts, including all eight in the first half. She did give Basalt its biggest lead of the game at 10, however, when she hit a jumper in the corner midway through the fourth.”Dayne was frustrated and had a hard time getting the ball,” Compton said. “She doesn’t always see how hard she works and what kind of difference she makes even if she doesn’t score.”Toney finished with five points, as did reserves Melissa Stewart and Ashley Soucie.While it wasn’t the title they envisioned hoisting ever since last year’s title game disappointment, the Longhorns were all smiles Saturday as they posed with the consolation bracket trophy.Then, they let the tears flow.”This was really emotional for us,” Peetz said. “It’s always good to go home with a trophy in hand.””This is a good way to end,” Compton added. “They are special athletes and special young women. I am absolutely blessed to have had the opportunity to watch them grow up in high school.”They should be so proud they came here back to back.”