Longhorns cruise into second round

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

BASALT Eaton head coach Todd Hernandez summed up his team’s performance against the No. 1 Basalt girls Friday succinctly. His team was blitzed.The Longhorns full-court press and transition game was in top form Friday as Basalt closed on a 10-0 run in the first, dominated the second quarter and cruised to the 78-34 3A state tournament opening round victory over the Reds.With the win, Basalt (19-4) advances to today’s second round where it will host familiar foe Hotchkiss, which beat Ellicott, 44-41, in Friday’s earlier game. The Longhorns faced their Western Slope conference mates three times – including districts – and came away with three wins by a combined margin of 38 points.”There’s nothing like shocking them,” Basalt coach Carolyn Compton said of her team’s fast start. “We showed a lot of energy and a lot of intensity. We played like we should this time of year.”

Senior Katy Mulcahy led the Basalt charge early, scoring the game’s first five points. After senior Cassie Meyer went up strong underneath to stretch the lead to six at 9-3, Eaton responded with back-to-back buckets from Kaelie Jelden and Katie Stults to pull to within two – the closest they would get the entire game. The Longhorns reeled off 10 straight to end the quarter, capped by Meyer’s steal and layup in transition with 51 seconds remaining.The Reds pulled to within nine with Lauren Woods’ jumper on the second quarter’s first possession. Basalt then put together a streak of 28 straight points to all but seal the game. During the run, eight different Longhorns scored. Meyer connected on three straight buckets in the paint to stretch the lead to 32, then Alia Munger and Katheryne Fitzpatrick scored in transition on back-to-back possessions to close out the half. The Longhorns led, 47-9 at the break.

“They did a nice job of getting in the passing lanes and forcing the pace of the game,” said Hernandez, whose team has no seniors. “If they play like they did tonight, they have as good a shot as anybody to win states.”Despite the large deficit, the Reds came out firing in the third quarter – a quarter they won, 13-11. Woods opened the third with three straight buckets underneath, prompting Compton to call a timeout. Woods added another lay-in, then stepped back and buried a long 3-pointer. Despite her 11 points in the quarter, Eaton could get no closer than 34. The Longhorns, with a lineup consisting primarily of reserves, opened the fourth on a 12-4 run to pull ahead, 69-26. From there, they rolled to their 15th win in the last 16 games.”It feels good to be at home and get a win like this,” junior Emily Peetz said. “We had the determination to get things done.”

Peetz said the Longhorns will not take second round opponent Hotchkiss lightly, despite her team’s success against the Bulldogs this season. After all, she saw firsthand last week how teams respond this time of year; after two deflating losses to Western Slope regular season champion Cedaredge, Basalt enacted a measure of revenge in the district championship with a 73-52 win.Compton said she’s not worried about a let-down today with a berth in the Great 8″ on the line.”These girls all have their eye on one goal,” she said. “They’re not ready to let up.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is