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Trying night for Basalt basketball

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesLonghorns guard Blake Scherer drives to the basket during Friday night's game against Rifle at Basalt High School.
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BASALT – Jon Pettit chided his players, then, in a fit of frustration, slammed a dry-erase board against the bleachers.

Moments later, the irate coach was whistled for a technical.

“[I was upset] with the way we were playing, like we had all the time in the world,” the Basalt boys basketball coach said of his third-quarter tirade Friday night against visiting Rifle.

“We need to play harder. That’s a requirement.”

Pettit’s bunch showed some sense of urgency down the stretch, capitalizing on a slew of Bears turnovers and missed free throws to pull to within eight points in the final quarter. They ran out of time, however, and came up short, 55-46, in their 3A Western Slope opener.

“We were just flat today, and they executed well,” Pettit said. “We couldn’t seem to get it in gear. … We didn’t communicate, and that’s a step back. We were turning the ball over tonight, and we couldn’t ever find any offensive continuity.”

Both teams struggled to run their offenses during a hard-fought but poorly executed first quarter in which the sides combined for just 16 points.

Rifle (2-3), which led by four after the first 8 minutes, made an adjustment and looked to exploit its size advantage in the paint during the second quarter. The plan worked, as Bears guards routinely fed Taylor Boone and Rian Creech down low, yielding easy baskets that extended the lead.

Boone had 10 points in the opening half, five of which came in the final 3 minutes of the second, helping the Bears take a 28-17 lead into the locker room. The senior finished with a game-high 16.

Boone shook free twice underneath in the early moments of the third to help Rifle pull ahead, 36-19.

The Bears, leading by 14 after three quarters, appeared like they would not be tested down the stretch. Basalt’s defensive pressure flustered the visitors, however.

“Basalt did a good job of getting us to play the game they wanted to. They sped up the game, made us turn the ball over and got some lay-ups,” Rifle head coach Chris Lowther said.

The Bears compounded matters with struggles at the free throw line. Rifle, which converted 28-of-32 from the stripe in its previous game against Cortez, missed 8 of its final 10 attempts Friday.

“You know, it’s always up and down in high school basketball,” Lowther added. “When you plug one hole, another pops up.”

The Longhorns (3-4) took advantage, pulling to within eight at 54-46 when Johnson Emerson pulled down an offensive board and finished off the glass with less than 2 minutes to play.

Von Church missed two free throws on the ensuing Bears possession, handing the ball right back to Basalt. The Longhorns turned the ball over, however, effectively squashing their comeback hopes.

Scott Riggins scored 13 points and Sam Morrison and Blake Scherer pitched in with 12 and 10, respectively, for Basalt, which will look to rebound at 4 p.m. today on the road against Coal Ridge.

It took Longhorns girls basketball coach Lauren Redfern just 6 minutes to burn her first timeout in Friday’s game against visiting Rifle. It probably came too late.

By that time, the high-powered Bears had built a 22-7 lead. Unbeaten Rifle closed the first quarter on a 15-0 run, opened the second with an 11-2 spurt and never looked back, cruising to a convincing 74-23 victory.

Racheal Keithley scored 12 of her 13 points in a first quarter in which the Bears seized control.

A visibly flustered and overmatched Basalt side mustered just three points in the first 6 minutes of the second quarter. It trailed, 36-16, at the break.

Rifle guard Cortney Cordova took over from there. The senior showcased her long-range shooting and driving skills, scoring 15 points in the third quarter as the Bears jumped out a 62-18 lead. She finished with a game-high 22.

The Longhorns (2-4) hit just one basket in the third quarter and were outscored, 38-7, in the game’s final 16 minutes.

Basalt, which also struggled Tuesday in a 62-43 loss to Hayden, will look to rebound on the road against Coal Ridge at 2:30 p.m. today. Rifle (5-0) is slated to tip of with Hotchkiss at the same time.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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