‘Horns, Rams shooting for state
It’s the state tournament, but don’t expect Basalt girls basketball coach Debbie Alcorta to change her coaching style.
Alcorta and the Longhorns will continue to force the opposition to adjust to them, rather than adjust to the opposition.
“We’re going with our strengths – pressing and running the floor,” Alcorta said. “I’m really confident with what we bring to the table.”
As she should be. The Class 3A Western Slope League and District champions enter tonight’s first-round state playoff game against Denver Christian of the Metro League at Basalt High School tonight. The game begins at 7 p.m. and follows Kent Denver-Pagosa Springs contest. The winners of the two games face off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, also at Basalt High School.
The host Longhorns (19-3) enter with the No. 5 seed and have been on a roll almost all season. Basalt hasn’t lost since the middle of January and is on a 12-game winning tear.
Denver Christian (13-10) enters as the No. 28 seed and, at least on paper, is overmatched against the Longhorns.
The only common opponent the two teams have is Faith Christian. Basalt defeated Faith Christian 56-48, while the Lions lost 55-32.
Jenn Simpson leads Denver Christian with 10 points per game and also is the team’s top rebounder.
“I don’t know if we’ll key on her, but we’ll put our best defender on her,” Alcorta said. “By the looks of it, they are patient on offense and work the ball around, so we’ll force them to take contested 3-point shots.”
Basalt has a plethora of weapons by comparison. Autumn Caughern has shown the ability to completely take over a game and averages 19 points per game. Post Lauren Redfern is scoring at a 16.1 ppg clip and Mariah Mulcahy chips in another 15.6.
While the trio accounts for a bulk of the Longhorns’ points, Alcorta is at ease regardless of who is on the court.
“I think (all the players) are all due for a big game,” Alcorta said. “After the district tournament, all 10 girls are playing well.”
Although Alcorta will be focused on her own team tonight, she admits she will be pulling for the other Western Slope League teams with tournament games tonight, particularly fellow Roaring Fork Valley squads Aspen and Roaring Fork.
She knows the better the league as a whole fares in the state tournament, the more respect each team in the league gets next season when the seedings come out.
Rams face off against Trinidad in opener
Roaring Fork has to travel to Platte Valley High School in Kersey for their first-round contest, but the Rams couldn’t be happier.
Head coach Jacky Gaddis expected a 13th or 14th seed for the tournament, but when she looked it up on Sunday, she found her squad was awarded a ninth seed.
“I’ve got so say CHSAA really did their homework and looked at our schedule and who we lost to,” Gaddis said. “They gave the Western Slope a lot of respect.”
Now it’s time to prove that respect is warranted.
Roaring Fork (17-5) opens the state tourney against No. 24-seed Trinidad (12-11) today at 2 p.m. at Platte Valley. The victor faces the winner of Friday’s Platte Valley-Florence game at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
For the Rams, the season has come down to not games and series, but moments, according to Gaddis.
“It’s moment to moment,” Gaddis said. “It isn’t even game to game. Moment to moment is how we’ve got to look at it from here on out.”
And by not looking ahead, Gaddis expects the Rams avoid a first-round upset similar to last season’s loss to Frederick.
“Anybody who makes it to this point is a good-caliber basketball team, I don’t care what they are ranked,” Gaddis said. “Last year we got surprised by Frederick and might have had our heads a little too high.”
Trinidad is paced by Ashleigh Ackerman, who leads an athletic, pressing team in scoring and rebounds.
Roaring Fork counters with standout center Tarn Udall’s 16.1 ppg and two quick guards of its own in Ashley Jensen and Carly Velasquez, who score over 11 ppg. Add to that Jessi Rochel’s double-digit average and the Rams should be in good shape.
The unknown is the health of Udall and Velasquez. Both have been ill recently, but Gaddis expects them to be on the floor tonight.
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