Surging Basalt girls drop league champs |

Surging Basalt girls drop league champs

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

PALISADE, Colo. ” Basalt girls basketball coach Carolyn Compton has been urging people all season not to give up on her Longhorns. She kept insisting her team was far better than its record or its stretches of inconsistent play seemed to indicate.

Compton was on to something.

Melissa Stewart erupted for 25 points Friday to lead underdog Basalt to a 60-51 upset victory over regular-season conference champion Olathe in the 3A Western Slope district semifinals at Palisade High School.

The Longhorns (9-12), the two-time defending district champions, will square off with Gunnison at 4 p.m. in today’s championship game.

“The goal is to keep playing well now when it really counts. I know we faked it pretty good for a while when we weren’t that good,” Compton said. “We’re picking up energy and confidence. We’ve definitely taken our bumps and bruises, but I told the girls that it would either kill us or help us.”

It helped Tuesday when the Longhorns traveled to Hotchkiss and pulled out a 65-56 opening-round victory, guaranteeing themselves a regional playoff berth.

Friday, they took another big step against a Pirates squad that dropped just two of 16 league games and outscored Basalt, 118-69, in two previous meetings.

The Longhorns struggled with foul trouble during a shaky first half but still headed to the locker room with a three-point lead, Compton said. They took charge from there.

Stewart, who has scored 54 points in her last two games, led that assault in a second half in which Basalt never trailed, Compton said.

“She’s really come full circle with her inside-out game, realizing that everything doesn’t have to be outside,” Compton said of her senior guard. “She’s really evolved as a point guard. It’s taken a little bit of time. The last few years she played behind players like Emily Peetz and Kat [Fitzpatrick], but she’s finally coming into her own.”

Junior Nicole Booth complimented Stewart with strong play in the paint, Compton said.

“She just came out the last couple games and decided to be our muscles,” the coach added. “She’s determined and she’s a rebounder. She’s doing the things that are not about points, but that’s what we need. She’s our enforcer right now.”

The Longhorns will need solid contributions from Stewart, Booth and others if they are to pull out a win against Gunnison, which topped Coal Ridge in Friday’s other semifinal. The Cowboys swept their home-and-home with Basalt during the regular season. In the last meeting, on Feb. 21, they cruised to a 59-29 victory.

“We’re playing better than we’ve played all year,” Compton said. “We went to Gunnison last week and played terrible, so they have a false sense of security. They watched the game tonight, and their coach said to me, ‘All right, we’re going to rumble tomorrow.’ I said, ‘Yeah we are. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.'”

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