Grand Valley girls, boys hoops hang on in Basalt
The Aspen Times
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
BASALT, Colorado – Grand Valley guard Shawnee Young admitted that the pressure got the best of her.
At least initially.
With 4.4 seconds remaining in regulation in a tie game Saturday in Basalt, the senior stepped to the foul line and promptly missed the front end of a one-and-one.
“I was really nervous,” Young said. “I’m just glad I got another chance.”
With her team clinging to a two-point lead with 8 seconds to play in overtime, Young sank two foul shots, extending the lead to four and helping the Cardinals clinch a dramatic 42-38, come-from-behind victory.
“I was a lot more nervous [at the line in overtime], but I was even more focused. I knew how much those counted,” Young said. “It feels good to have a win.”
Added coach Mike Johnson: “We seem to get a lot of things right on the second opportunity and in second halves.”
Grand Valley mustered just one field goal in a first quarter in which they spotted the Longhorns an 8-3 lead.
Basalt guard Jamie Matherly twice scored in transition to keep the momentum going at the start of the second quarter, then the Longhorns closed the half on a 7-1 run to take a 25-14 lead.
“That’s been the fourth game this has happened. We dig ourselves a hole and don’t show up ready to go,” Johnson said. “On the positive side, these girls are resilient and they show a lot of guts.”
Matherly’s three points in the third quarter were all Basalt could generate against a visibly energized Cardinals side, which was contesting nearly every shot and creating scores of turnovers with ball-hawking full-court pressure.
Ashlynn Speakman scored off one Grand Valley steal in the waning moments of the quarter to trim her team’s deficit to five at 28-23.
“I think it was our lack of execution. I don’t think their pressure [was much of a factor]. We’ve seen pressure like that all year,” Longhorns assistant coach Charles Capobianco said. “Whatever we were saying just wasn’t registering with the players.”
The Cardinals battled all the way back early in the fourth. After a Matherly layup, Sudick and Young shook free for open 3s as Grand Valley pulled to within a point.
Later, with 4 minutes, 45 seconds remaining, Haley Johnson hit two free throws to give the visitors their first lead of the game.
A sloppy, dramatic few minutes ensued. Speakman picked off an inbound pass and scored, putting the Cardinals ahead, 34-32, with 90 seconds to play. Basalt (3-5 overall, 1-3 3A Western Slope) then turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, then fouled Sudick with 24 seconds on the clock.
The senior missed the front end.
Julia Kapustka drove through the lane on the ensuing Longhorns possession, drawing a foul with 16.2 seconds to play; she squared the game with two clutch free throws.
Second later, Matherly was whistled for an ill-advised foul on Young near midcourt. Basalt exhaled, however, after Young’s miss sent the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, Johnson broke a 38-all tie with a crisp cut to the basket and a finish off the glass with little more than a minute to play. The Longhorns stubbed their own toe again, turning the ball over three consecutive times – bringing their game total to 34.
Young then put the finishing touches on a Cardinals win – just their second in nine games this season.
“Hopefully we learn a lot from this,” Capobianco said.
Longhorns head coach Jon Pettit admitted that his team came out flat Saturday – likely the lingering result of a deflating home loss to Roaring Fork the previous night.
By the time Basalt hit its stride Saturday against Grand Valley, it was too late. The Longhorns, who trailed by as many as 14 in the opening half, rallied to pull to as close as four in the fourth. The Cardinals made a few pivotal stops, however, and hit some key free throws down the stretch to escape with a 50-43 win.
“We seem to get down on ourselves and fight our way back, but we always seem to be a little behind [at the end],” Pettit said. “Tonight, we just seemed to be a step slow. Give Grand Valley credit. They moved the ball well and made us work really hard on defense.
“They didn’t turn the ball over. A lot of the teams in this league are equal, and the ones that make the fewest mistakes come away with wins.”
Omar Melendrez and Trent Reidle buried back-to-back 3’s late in the opening quarter, helping the Cardinals (7-2, 3-1) race out to a 18-7 advantage after 8 minutes. Melendrez led all scorers with 21.
Guard Blake Scherer kept the Longhorns within striking distance, scoring 12 of his team’s 16 first-half points. He finished with 16.
Basalt (3-7, 0-4) trailed by 12 after three quarters but did not fold. They slowly worked their way back and, with about 4 minutes remaining in the game, J.R. Krueger connected from long distance to cut the deficit to five.
“That seems to happen in every game we play. I don’t know if all these other teams hate us, but it does make it a lot of fun,” Grand Valley head coach Jake Higuera joked. “I’d say we lost our guys [in the fourth quarter], and the little things we took care of in the first half, we kind of let those go.”
The Cardinals did just enough to survive, however. After Scott Riggins scored on the offensive glass to pull his squad to within four points with less than a minute to play, Reidle hit a free throw and Dylan Walters drove to the basket and scored after a Longhorns turnover, sealing the win.
“We have to be better at taking care of the basketball. … A lot of them are unforced, and that’s giving the other team extra possessions,” Pettit said. “We’re going to work on it.”
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Facing the loss of five crucial games down the stretch due to COVID-19 quarantine rules, the Glenwood Springs girls basketball team’s postseason fate looked uncertain and totally out of the team’s control.