‘Horn girls look to improve on last season’s state run
Last year the Basalt Longhorns girls’ basketball team had one of its best seasons in history, finishing with a 25-2 (10-0 Western Slope League) record.
The Longhorns won the league and district titles for the second straight year and took the regional crown to qualify for the Class 3A state tournament for the first time in 14 years. After dropping the opening round game in overtime, Basalt went on to win the consolation bracket state championship.
Head coach Debbie Alcorta and the Longhorn players would like to improve this season.
“I think a lot of the girls would like to trade in that consolation state championship and come home with the state championship,” Alcorta said. “I think it’s within their grasp. We’ve got as good a chance as anyone.”
The Longhorns lost second-team all-state selection Molly McGrath to graduation, but last year’s squad was far from one-dimensional. At one point last year Basalt had five players who boasted double-digit scoring averages.
Alcorta returns three starters in senior guard/forward Mariah Mulcahy and juniors Autumn Caughern (point guard) and Lauren Redfern (forward/post).
There’s no point in changing what works. The Longhorns will run what can loosely be described as a motion offense and press with their man defense.
“What I teach these girls is you have to find a weakness,” Alcorta said. “As soon as we find a weakness, we can create and go after that weakness. We just make it up as we go along.
“We pride ourselves in defense and refer to it as our bread and butter,” she added. “We are definitely a fast-break team and create a lot of turnovers on our press.”
Caughern, who was an all-league honorable mention last year, will have the duty of directing the Basalt offense from the point. While she doesn’t have an abundance of experience at the position, Alcorta is confident Caughern has the tools to excel.
“Autumn is a very smart player and, at 6-feet tall, is a great ball handler and passer,” Alcorta said. “She’s very comfortable being point guard. She’s lacking in experience at point guard, but it’s comfortable for her.”
And Caughern should get plenty of help from Mulcahy and Redfern. Mulcahy was an all-league player last season and the team’s top scorer, while Redfern is a force on the boards and was all-league honorable mention.
The Longhorns will also be bolstered by players who haven’t seen much time at the varsity level. Among the newcomers Alcorta expects to contribute this season are junior inside player Rochelle Moebius and sophomore guard Deanna Spracher.
Basalt opens its season Tuesday on the road against Class 4A Rifle.
The Basalt Longhorn boys basketball team brings back plenty of experience for the 2002-03 campaign.
The Longhorns, who finished last season with a 7-13 record (4-6 WSL), return four seniors who saw significant court time as juniors.
Basalt’s athletic squad will be anchored by Kyle Kappeli, Ryan Thompson, Travis Schwan and Danny Popish, who all return for their final season of high school basketball.
“We really believe in trying to push the ball when we have the opportunity,” head coach Michael Green said. “If people give us the opportunity to run the floor we like to take it. We want to have good ball pressure and hopefully force the other team to make the mistakes.”
Popish will be saddled with the duties of court general at guard, but he should receive some relief from sophomore Cody Burkholder, according to Green.
The Longhorns have a tough opener at home against Kent Denver of the Metro League on Friday.
“I think we’re just looking at taking it one game at a time,” Green said. “We just want to get through that first game.”
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