Basalt bench will have key role at State |

Basalt bench will have key role at State

G. Sean Kelly

When it gets down to the “Great Eight” round of the state tournament, every team has its stars.

It’s often the lesser-known players who are the difference between a state title and consolation games.

Maybe that’s why Basalt coach Debbie Alcorta and the Longhorn players are fairly comfortable headed into their Class 3A Girls State Championships tournament game today against Estes Park.

“They are going to overlook Rochelle Moebius. They are going to overlook Brittany Pollock, Deanna Spracher and Ashley Eaton,” said Alcorta, listing some key reserves. “Those four girls are playing incredible basketball.

“I think with the style of basketball we play – pushing the ball for three games in three nights – it comes down to who is the best conditioned and who has the best bench,” Alcorta added.

“And I think we have the best bench.”

Today’s game starts at 10:15 a.m. at Widefield High School in Colorado Springs. The venue was changed due to security concerns at the U.S. Air Force Academy. All of Basalt’s tournament games will be broadcast live on KMTS (99.1-FM).

This is the second straight year the No. 5-seed Longhorns (21-3) have made the trip to the final eight. Last year Basalt lost its opener against Centauri in overtime, then went on to win the consolation championship.

“Everybody is healthy and the girls are loose,” Alcorta said. “We’re going in with the approach that we’ve been there, done that. We want to get the first win under our belts and see where it takes us.”

The experience of last year’s early exit from the winner’s bracket, as well as some tight games during the regular season this year, should work in favor of Basalt against fourth-seeded Estes Park (22-3).

“I think the difference is that last year we were never in any of those situations where we got behind during the season,” Alcorta said. “This year we’ve been in those situations – we’ve been down by 15 and down by four. I think this year, if that happens, the players will be more relaxed.”

Estes Park comes out of the Patriot-Longs Peak League and beat Western Slope League team Eagle Valley and Buena Vista to advance to the round of eight.

The Bobcats win over Eagle Valley may give Basalt some confidence heading into today’s contest. Estes Park downed Eagle Valley 48-32, while the Longhorns beat the Devils 70-43 and 65-28 in their two league meetings this season.

Guard Dawn Shockley led the Bobcats with 12 points in the victory over Eagle Valley and, along with post player Ruth Anna Koehler, supplies much of the offense for Estes Park.

Shockley and Koehler both average over 14 points per game and netted 17 and 20, respectively, in the second round against Buena Vista.

State: see page 16

“They get a lot of putbacks and have a quick guard and a shooter,” Alcorta said. “Both guards are young, so pressing and forcing them into traps might rattle them a little bit. We’ve got to stay with what works, and that has worked for us so far.”

While Basalt’s bench may ultimately decide the game, the Longhorns will still need the typical solid effort from the big three of Autumn Caughern, Lauren Redfern and Mariah Mulcahy.

And, with the numbers the trio has posted this season, it’s unlikely any team will overlook them

Caughern, who was a recently nominated for the Rocky Mountain News Class 3A player of the year award, averages over 18 points per game. Both Mulcahy and Redfern average over 15 points.

All three players scored in double figures in both regional-round playoff games and Mulcahy and Caughern were on fire from beyond the arc, combining for 11 treys in the two games.

The winner of this morning’s game plays the winner of tonight’s Machebeuf-Platte Valley contest at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, while the losers face off in the consolation bracket at 10:15 a.m. All games will be held at Widefield High School.

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