Graduation didn’t hurt Basalt boys basketball team
The Basalt Longhorns boys basketball team has had players on the all-league teams over the past few seasons, but, until last season, most of those players were in their final year of prep basketball.This season will be different for the ‘Horns.Basalt brings back six lettermen from last season’s fifth-place district squad, including three who earned postseason kudos.”In the past we’ve had some all-league players, but they were always seniors,” fourth-year head coach Michael Green said. “This is the first year we’ve had them back.”Couple last season with a 40-game slate over the summer for the Longhorns, and Basalt should be a team no one can overlook in the Class 3A Western Slope League.Cody Burkholder is back after leading the squad in scoring last season. Fellow first-teamer Ben Pollock, a junior, will start at the point guard, but also will see plenty of time at the two-guard when junior J.P. Fitzpatrick comes in. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, junior Darren Duroux gives the ‘Horns a physical presence, and Green is expecting him to improve on a solid sophomore season.”Duroux was (all-league) honorable mention last year, and I think he’s matured this year,” Green said. “We’re looking for him to step up.”Add in returning lettermen Justin Kovach, Jesse Regan and Jamie Wirkler and the biggest area of improvement for the Rams may be just experience and the consistency that comes with it.”I don’t think we’ll change a whole lot, we’ll just be more consistent,” Green said. “We’ll take the ball up and down the floor and take our opportunities when we get them.”Basalt will stick with what Green calls an “offensive defense,” working for offensive opportunities from the defensive end of the court. The Longhorns open their season playing up a division against Class 4A Rifle tonight at 7:30 p.m. While the Bears may be short a player or two due to Saturday’s state championship football game, it should be good preparation for the deep 3A Western Slope League that includes a Roaring Fork squad that didn’t lose a game until the state semifinals last season.The league title “still probably runs through Roaring Fork,” Green said.
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