‘Horn girls claim league title
BASALT – With the outright girls 3A Western Slope League title on the line, Basalt’s Autumn Caughern took matters into her own hands.
Caughern, who moved around from guard to post throughout the game, scored the Longhorns’ final 19 points, and 33 in the contest, as Basalt rallied from a 15-point deficit to defeat midvalley rival Roaring Fork 75-71 at the Big House in Basalt Friday night.
The victory sealed a third consecutive league title for the Longhorns (13-1 16-3), while Roaring Fork (11-3, 15-4) finishes second.
“I told her I loved her and I told her we needed a leader,” said Basalt coach Debbie Alcorta, of a talk prior to the final run. “She made the choice to do what I asked her to do.”
She did what she was asked and more.
After two Lauren Redfern free throws cut the Rams’ lead to 59-56 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Caughern took over.
She scored three baskets from the paint to tie the game at 62-all, and, after a pair of fast-break layups by Roaring Fork, hit a trey to keep the Longhorns within one at 66-65.
Roaring Fork’s Carly Velasquez, who scored 17 in the game, converted a traditional 3-point play and Jessi Rochel added a pair of free throws for a 71-65 Roaring Fork lead. Rochel finished with 16 points.
Redfern, who scored 13, fouled out seconds later, but it didn’t hurt Caughern. The Basalt junior scored the rest of the game’s points and sealed the contest going 2-for-2 on a 1-and-1 trip to the charity stripe with 11.2 seconds left in the game.
“Coach was saying that the inside was working, and get the ball to Autumn,” Caughern said. “My teammates did a good job of getting the ball to me and my inside shots were falling tonight.”
“There’s not much you can do,” said Roaring Fork coach Jacky Gaddis of Caughern. “Good players are good players. It wasn’t that there was no defense on her.”
The Rams got off to a quick start in the game and looked poised to end their long losing streak to the Longhorns.
Buoyed by nine first-quarter points from junior post Tarn Udall, the Rams went on a 14-2 run to open the game and built a 26-11 by the end of the first quarter. Udall finished with a team-high 23 points and 18 rebounds.
“I give them credit,” Caughern said. “They played every single second and kept bringing it and bringing it.
“They played like we play.”
A key to the quick lead was the Rams’ success in breaking Basalt’s press. Roaring Fork guards Velasquez and Ashley Jensen, aided by some well-executed picks, were able to shed much of the pressure and convert some easy fast-break points.
“We were so prepared for that press,” Gaddis said.
The Longhorns chipped away at the lead in the second quarter, with Mariah Mulcahy scoring 12 of her 21 points in the frame. Basalt outscored the Rams 28-18 but still trailed by five points at the intermission.
The Longhorns took the lead 45-44 with 6:25 left in the third quarter, but the Rams quickly regained the lead and held a 56-54 edge at the end of three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Caughern and the Longhorns completed their rally, something Alcorta hopes will help the team in the upcoming playoffs.
“It’s not very often this team has to come from behind and it’s always plagued us in the playoffs,” Alcorta said. “It’s a great learning tool and a great thing to have happen.”
The No. 1-seed Longhorns open the district tournament Tuesday at home against Gunnison (1-13, 2-16) at 7 p.m., while the No. 2-seed Rams face Hotchkiss (3-11, 4-14) in Carbondale at 6 p.m. Being on opposite sides of the brackets, there could be a rematch in the finals next weekend.
“Basalt hasn’t seen something like this in a long time,” Gaddis said. “The beautiful part is we may get to do it again.”
Basalt 75, Roaring Fork 71
Roaring Fork 26 18 12 15-71
Basalt 11 28 15 21-75
ROARING FORK – Tarn Udall 9 5-8 23, Brie Bath 2 0-0 4, Jessi Rochel 6 4-4 16, Carly Velasquez 7 3-5 17, Ashley Jensen 3 2-2 9, Laura Wright 0 0-0 0, Megan Zeigel 0 0-0 0, Aly Romanus 1 0-0 2. Totals 28 14-19 71.
BASALT – Ashley Eaton 0 0-0 0, Makenzie Holmes 0 0-0 0, Brittany Pollock 0 0-0 0, Autumn Caughern 15 2-6 33, Deanna Spracher 1 0-0 2, March Thompson 0 0-0 0, Mariah Mulcahy 10 0-2 21, Rochelle Moebius 3 0-0 6, Lauren Redfern 4 5-6 13. Totals 33 7-13 75.
3-pointers – Jensen; Caughern, Mulcahy. Fouled out – Redfern. Technicals – none.
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