Longhorn girls nab No. 1 seed | AspenTimes.com
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Longhorn girls nab No. 1 seed

BASALT Basalt’s girls basketball team has had great success on the road this season, but, when it comes to the playoffs, there’s truly no place like home.After wrapping up a district title Saturday at Palisade, the Longhorns will find themselves in familiar surroundings Friday when they begin their playoff run in earnest. Basalt was one of four teams Monday to earn a No. 1 seed – and the enviable home-court advantage that accompanies it – when state playoff brackets were released for this year’s field of 32.The Longhorns open with No. 8 Eaton (7-16), which finished fifth in the seven-team Patriot League East. A Basalt win would mean a second-round matchup with either No. 4 Ellicott (15-7) or No. 5 Hotchkiss (14-5) – a 3A Western Slope foe Basalt beat twice during the regular season.Longhorns coach Carolyn Compton said she doesn’t know much about Eaton, or Ellicott, but that really doesn’t matter.”I just think if we keep playing the way we’re playing, we’ll be all right,” she said. “I’m very pleased with our bracket. I’m energized by the girls. I feel positive that we’re going to have a good weekend.”As for the advantage of playing at home, Compton noted that Eaton and Ellicott both will have to travel more than 200 miles to get to Basalt. “I would have been OK to travel, because my girls tend to play good on the road when we’re doing different things after staying in a hotel,” she said. “At the same time, there’s nothing like getting to stay in your own bed and eating your mom’s home-cooked meals. Hopefully, we’ll get the crowds out. The student body down at Palisade, their support really helped us out.”Aspen’s boys basketball team won’t have the benefit of home-cooked meals and familiar mattresses when it opens regional play Friday at Sheridan High School. The Skiers (16-6 overall) earned a No. 3 seed Monday, two days after losing to 3A Western Slope champion Roaring Fork for the third time this season in the district championship game.Aspen opens the regional round at 5 p.m. Friday against sixth-seeded Roosevelt (12-11), with a possible matchup looming against host Sheridan (19-2) – a No. 2 seed – on Saturday with a berth in the “Great Eight” on the line.The Skiers will first have to get past Roosevelt, however, which is led by the state’s top scorer, Jerry Hildreth.Aspen has the state’s second-leading scorer in junior Cory Parker, but the two players – and teams, for that matter – couldn’t be more different. Parker goes 6-foot-6 and uses his height to his advantage, whether scoring baskets in the paint or pulling up for midrange jumpers. Hildreth is a 5-foot-8 slasher who relies on his quickness to get open looks.Roosevelt’s tallest player is 6-foot-2, while Aspen has nine players over 6 feet – including Michael Taylor (6’7″), Brian Westerlind (6’2″) and Blake Wilcox (6’3″).”They don’t have any bigs, and they are super quick, so it should be a good test,” Ketchum said. “They’ll play five guards and just spread you out and shoot threes. They just run at you and get in your face and try to create turnovers constantly. … At the same time, they’re going to have a really tough time matching up with our size and strength. It’s all about who will be able to do what they do best better than the other team.”Ketchum said his team is battle-tested for a playoff run. It lost six games this season, but three of those were to Roaring Fork – one of four No. 1 seeds in the field of 32.Aspen also played a trying early-season schedule where it earned wins over 4A Steamboat Springs, 4A Eagle Valley and 4A Conifer. Steamboat Springs was ranked in 4A throughout the season, while Conifer won its 10-team league.”I’m very pleased with the seeding, in part, because the committee thinks we’re good,” Ketchum said. “I think it’s a great draw for us. I think everybody was well aware that we’ve got one of the best kids in the state.”The other local team to earn a playoff bid was Basalt’s boys team (7-15), which earned a No. 8 seed and will face No. 1 No. 1 Eaton (19-3) at 7 p.m. Friday.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com


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