Engineering a revival: Basalt senior Michael Glen leads Longhorns back to basketball greatness
Somewhere in Michael Glen Jr.’s wiry, 6-foot-6 frame is a baseball player. It was the sport he grew up playing, influenced by his baseball-loving father, Michael Glen Sr.
Glen Jr. still plays shortstop for the Basalt High School baseball team in the spring, but it’s become a secondary sport for the Longhorn senior.
“I grew up as a baseball player, so that was kind of tough, but you got to go with what your kids love,” Glen Sr. said. “He was committed to it. I was a little skeptical at first because I wasn’t sure he was a better basketball player than he was a baseball player, but he has since proved me wrong.”
And it’s been the younger Glen’s emergence on the court that has helped revive a once powerful BHS boys basketball program. Basalt (21-3), as the Class 3A state tournament’s No. 9 seed, will play No. 1 seed Kent Denver at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the “Great 8” round, hosted by the University of Denver.
The Basalt boys haven’t played this late into the state tournament since taking fifth in Class A-1 in 1989.
“It’s a privilege making it this far. We’ve worked really hard and we are just really excited to continue a tradition that hasn’t happened in a while,” Glen Jr. said after practice this week. “I don’t think it’s really quite hit us. Most of what we want to accomplish is from here on out. We are very excited about what we’ve done so far, but also we have a lot in front of us.”
A down decade
It’s been no cakewalk getting to this point for Basalt. Only once from 2006-07 through the 2014-15 season did the Longhorns reach double-digit wins, going 10-13 in 2009-10. This includes the first two seasons under fourth-year coach Danny Martinez, a 2001 BHS graduate.
Basalt went 4-18 in Martinez’s first season, which coincided with Glen’s freshman year. A year later, Basalt went 5-15 and then, a season ago with Glen as a junior, Longhorn basketball broke through the glass ceiling, finishing 17-6 overall. BHS lost in the round of 32 in the 3A state tournament as a No. 17 seed last winter.
“We didn’t have a lot of seniors or juniors when we were freshmen or sophomores, so we always had that varsity-game mindset, even if we weren’t always winning,” said BHS senior forward Wade Soho. “We were always trying our hardest and were always pushing through the struggle and it really only was a reward this year.”
Basalt had some strong teams when Martinez was a player, but none could ever get past the regional rounds of the state tournament. The teams from the 1980s were powerhouses, however, and included state runner-up finishes in 1984, ’86 and ’88. A few of those teams included Paul Cain, who holds the BHS school record with 1,665 career points.
But it was Martinez’s influence that propelled Glen Jr. onto the court and away from the diamond.
“My eighth-grade year when I first met Danny, he really opened my eyes to basketball and really transformed me into a much better player than I was at the time,” Glen Jr. said. “I really started falling in love with the sport and saw it as my favorite over baseball.”
Glen Jr., who won’t quite catch Cain’s mark, surpassed 1,000 career points earlier this season. He averaged 16 points per game as a sophomore, 18.3 points per game as a junior, and this season is averaging 21.1 points per game to go with 10.8 rebounds. According to MaxPreps, Glen is eighth in Class 3A in points per game this winter.
“When he has energy, we all have energy,” BHS junior guard Justin Henderson said of Glen. “We have to give him the ball every single time. He’s our best player. He scores the most. As long as we give it to him and he’s scoring, we should be good.”
Glen Jr.’s success on the court goes hand-in-hand with his success off the court, at least according to dad. The BHS senior sits just below a 4.0 grade point average and plans on becoming an engineer, like his father.
“He always puts a lot of pressure on himself,” said Glen Sr., who is in charge of recording the basketball team’s stats. “He’s one of those people where he’ll have a good game and even though I will tell him or someone else will tell him he had a good game, he’ll look at it and say, ‘You know what? No, that was average. I should be able to do better than that.’”
Glen Jr.’s pedigree, as a student and player, isn’t lost on the rest of the state, either. Longtime Kent Denver coach Todd Schayes, who will see Glen play for the first time Thursday, reached out to some of Basalt’s nonleague opponents to learn what he could about the Longhorns’ star big man.
Their responses gave Schayes plenty of reason to worry.
“They hands-down feel that Michael Glen is going to be the 3A state player of the year,” Schayes said. “They said he’s a terrific young man both on and off the court, which is pretty impressive. If and when I have a vote, that means a lot to a lot of coaches. They said he is just a hard worker.”
All that hard work should pay big dividends for Glen Jr., no matter what happens at the state tournament. He is receiving plenty of attention to play collegiate basketball, including at the Division II level, but is firmly focused on making engineering his first priority. Glen Sr. said his son has already turned down numerous liberal arts schools, and currently is looking at a handful of private Division III schools on the east coast, all of which have strong engineering programs.
The fact that all of these schools also are interested in him as a basketball player is a testament to his dedication.
“My wife (Julie) is very concerned about that, about him going far away from home. But he needs to go wherever is going to mean the most to him,” Glen Sr. said. “He wasn’t sure at first whether basketball was an important part. But as we’ve gone through this process, he’s decided he does want to play basketball in college. He’s not done yet.”
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