Its do-or-die time for Lady Longhorns
This is why they play the game.Tonight at 7 p.m. at the Basalt High School Bighouse, the No. 8 seed Basalt girls basketball team renews its Class 3A state championship bid with a regional-level game against No. 25 La Junta.With the field of 32 teams set, the winner advances to the sweet 16 and the loser goes home, finished.In a rematch of sorts from the third-place consolation title in last years state playoffs, a game won by La Junta after BHS title dreams were narrowly dashed in the semifinals, Basalt, 18-4 on the season, enters tonights game the clear favorite over La Junta, at 11-12.And Basalt, which has won four consecutive Class 3A Western Slope League titles, has been in do-or-die situations before.Weve got confidence knowing we can win these types of games, Terry Kappeli, the Basalt coach, said last night.I see a lot of confidence, I see a lot of vitality and eagnerness to get on to another level, and theyve got all the tools they need.Led by senior Lauren Redfern, a multidimensional scorer who can play all five positions, the Lady Longhorns have eight players they can look to for production. The starters, including Redfern, junior guard Deanna Spracher, senior guard Brittany Pollock, and senior forwards Rochelle Moebius and Amanda Schmitt, have all carried the Horns before.On any given night, anyone can have a career-type game, said Kappeli. And thats what we love about this team. Theres eight kids capable of having a very good night.No. 9 Eaton (18-5) and No. 24 Trinidad (11-11) tip off at 5 p.m. in Basalt in the early first-round game.The winner of Basalt-La Junta and Eaton-Trinidad will face off at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Bighouse for the right to advance to the great eight. The eight finalists will clash next Thursday to Saturday at Colorado State University to determine a state champ.Getting this far was the second of our goals, Kappeli said. The first was to win the league; the second was to win regionals; and the third was to go to [the final eight] and do well. So were on our way.Roaring Fork boys, girls host as wellOf the eight teams playing at Roaring Fork High School this weekend, five have a trip of more than three hours to the regional rounds of the Class 3A State Basketball Tournament.Two teams that wont be traveling far are Roaring Fork High Schools boys and girls, which swept the Western Slope League district tournament last weekend to earn the homecourt advantage.I think its huge just because those other schools have to travel over the mountains, Rams boys head coach Roger Walters said. We get a chance to play in front of our fans, its nice for the community and the kids are excited.The fans should be excited too.Along with the homecourt edge, the Roaring Fork squads also have high seeds, giving yet another advantage to the Rams, who havent needed much outside help this season.On the boys side, Roaring Fork enters the tournament as one of two undefeated teams in 3A, at 22-0, and with the No. 2 seed.The Rams also boast top-ranked players in Class 3A in scoring (seventh, Dan Markoya, 19.5 points per game), free-throw percentage (second, Nic Lough, 87.9 percent), assists (first, Aaron Markham, 9.2 per game) and steals (fourth, Christian Tena, 3.0 per game). And, keep in mind, the Roaring Fork starters didnt often see much action in the fourth quarter this season.Still, coach Walters isnt heading into the regionals overconfident, despite facing the No. 31 seed in Salida (9-14).Everybody makes me nervous, he said. Its just that way this time of year. Hopefully we play our best and well be traveling next week.Were just going to do what we do and they are going to have to adjust to that, Walters added. Were only concerned with what we do.The other teams in the regional bracket are No. 15-seed Denver Christian (15-8) of the Denver Metro League and the Western Slopes Eagle Valley (17-5).Boys action starts today at 4 p.m., with Denver Christian facing Eagle Valley. Roaring Fork takes on Salida at 8 p.m. The winners advance to Saturdays regional championship at 3 p.m.GirlsTo say the No. 5-seed Roaring Fork girls team enters regionals with momentum may be an understatement. After suffering their second loss of the season to upvalley rivals Basalt in the regular-season finale, the Rams rebounded at the district tournament to beat the Longhorns in the title game. The victory ended a losing streak to rival Basalt that dates back to before head coach Jacky Gaddis took over the program three years ago.The Rams (20-2) will face a team that plays a style drastically different than Basalt in the first round, however.Manitou Springs posted a winning record of 14-8 in the Tri-Peaks League, but isnt a prolific scoring team. The Rams offense averages over 61 points a game and revolves around post Tarn Udall. The teams only senior, Udall is the 3A leader in rebounds (13.5 per game) and also averages almost 16 points a contest.On the other side of the regional bracket, a tough Bishop Machebeuf squad (18-3) faces Roosevelt (13-10). The two squads open the tournament today with a 2 p.m. game. The Rams take on Manitou at 6 p.m., and the winners from each game advance to the regional title game at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
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