Basketball: Basalt boys cruise against Vail Mountain School |

Basketball: Basalt boys cruise against Vail Mountain School

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesLonghorns senior Scott Riggins shoots over Vail Mountain School's James Newton on Tuesday night at Basalt High School.

BASALT – The Longhorns boys basketball team was outscored by an average of 25 points in three losses to 4A squads to open the season.

They looked right at home in their return to 3A play on Tuesday night. Basalt jumped out to a 14-2, first-quarter lead against Vail Mountain School on the strength of stellar transition play and shooting from senior guards Sam Morrison and Blake Scherer. The Longhorns’ defense surrendered just three first-half field goals and 30 total points in a lopsided 53-30 victory.

“The kids came out tough and ready to work,” Basalt assistant Ben Blaeser said. “Any time you get a win, it gives you confidence.”

The Longhorns were left trying to regroup after three humbling losses – the latest a 62-27 drubbing in Montrose on Dec. 7. Count Tuesday night as a step in the right direction.

Morrison and Scherer combined for 12 points and three others scored during a first quarter in which Basalt jumped out to a 19-6 lead. The Longhorns dominated on the offensive glass and generated multiple easy baskets with suffocating full-court defensive pressure.

Johnson Emerson picked off a pass and scored in transition, then Scherer drained a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the second quarter, extending the Basalt lead to 18.

The Gore Rangers, who missed just three of 11 free throw attempts in the opening half, could muster just one field goal in the second quarter – a running jumper from Sean McKeever – and trailed, 29-14, heading into halftime.

McKeever, the lone bright spot for VMS, finished with 11 points.

All hopes of a Gore Rangers comeback were effectively extinguished in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Longhorns senior Scott Riggins buried a shot in the far corner, then scored off the glass, highlighting an 8-2 spurt that gave the home team a commanding 33-14 advantage. Basalt closed the quarter with a 9-2 run – five points came from senior Humberto Alvarez – and took a 49-24 lead, its largest of the game.

“The boys played great and are still shaking the rust off,” Blaeser said. “They kept their intensity up – we had only three turnovers in the second half.”

The Longhorns (1-3) scored just four fourth-quarter points – all from Riggins. Still, they were never tested.

Riggins finished with 10 and Morrison added nine for Basalt, which hosts 4A Battle Mountain at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“It was a little different than playing a tough 4A team,” said Scherer, who finished with a team-high 14 points. “Inexperience [cost us in those first few games]. We have only three guys on the team that have played varsity in the past. We have to get the other guys caught up.

“We came out strong tonight. Once we realized that we could win, we started playing lazy. … We’ve got to build on this and learn from it.”

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