Basalt girls lose state opener in overtime
The Basalt girls lost a 67-62 overtime thriller to Centauri in the first round of the 3A State Basketball Tournament Thursday afternoon at the Air Force Academy.
The loss mirrored an equally heartbreaking loss that Basalt suffered at the hands of Centauri one year ago in the Regional finals at the Big House in Basalt. That one-point heartbreaker loss came on a last-second, desperation shot by Centauri’s Erin McCarroll.
On Thursday, history repeated itself as the Falcons outscored Basalt 7-2 in overtime, sending the Longhorns into the 3A state consolation bracket.
Basalt’s girls, now 23-2, will play Manitou Springs at 8:45 a.m. Friday at Clune Arena on the campus of the Air Force Academy. Manitou Springs (20-5) lost to top-ranked and unbeaten Colorado Springs Christian 54-41 on Thursday.
The Basalt girls staged a dramatic second-half comeback to force overtime against Centauri, now 22-1.
After trailing by six at halftime (28-22), Basalt cut Centauri’s lead to 42-39 entering the fourth quarter, keyed by a three-point play from Mariah Mulcahy and a basket by Autumn Caughern.
Centauri, behind all-stater McCarroll, pushed the lead back to five points before Stephanie Kemp and Molly McGrath rallied the Horns.
McGrath hit a pair of crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. She and Mulcahy added steals, with Mulcahy hitting a layup after her steal to pull Basalt to within 56-54 with less than two minutes to play in regulation.
Caughern tied the score 56-all with two free throws with 1:51 on the clock.
After two Sarah Reynolds free throws for Centauri, McGrath again tied the score with a 15-foot jump shot with 1:14 to play.
And McGrath helped the Longhorns take a 60-58 lead with 28 seconds remaining when her assist led to Caughern’s go-ahead basket.
But after a Centauri timeout, the Falcons worked the ball to McCarroll, who passed underneath to Julie McGinnis, who hit the shot to tie the game with eight seconds remaining.
A late Basalt shot bounced away and the game headed to overtime.
Already missing Lauren Redfern, who fouled out early in the fourth quarter, the Horns soon were without Caughern, who picked up her fifth foul early in OT.
McGinnis broke the overtime tie with two free throws after the Caughern foul.
McGrath promptly retied the game 62-62 with two pressure foul shots.
But the points would be the last of the game for Basalt. Centauri, meanwhile, added a McCarroll basket and 3-of-4 foul shots in the final 20 seconds to take the emotional 67-62 victory.
Mulcahy led Basalt with 20 points in the loss. McGrath added 19, including three 3-pointers.
Kemp added 11 while Redfern scored eight.
Erin McCarroll led Centauri with 23 points. Reynolds added 13 for the Falcons, who converted 20-of-24 free throws against Basalt.
The game marked the first appearance by the Basalt girls at state since 1989.
In other 3A girls games Thursday, Estes Park (24-2) knocked off Faith Christian (22-3) by a 47-32 score.
Jennifer Davoren of The Aspen Times contributed to this story.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.