Rivalry, tourney seeds on the line
It’s a battle in the Big House.
And battles don’t get much better than the one slated tonight between Basalt and Roaring Fork – particularly on the girls’ side.
“People who have not seen the girls or boys play all year will be there,” Basalt coach Debbie Alcorta said. “The rivalry has gone back so many years, the stands will be packed.”
The friendly midvalley grudge match is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. on the court of Basalt High School’s Big House.
For the Basalt girls, its a chance to claim its third consecutive 3A Western Slope League title outright.
The Rams (11-2, 15-3) are lurking a game behind the Longhorns (12-1, 15-3) and, with a win, would tie Basalt for first in league standings. There is some confusion as to whether the two squads would be named co-champions, or if the title would be given to Basalt through a tiebreaker.
Alcorta would prefer to take the confusion out of the equation and just win.
“If we don’t beat Roaring Fork we should be co-league champions,” Alcorta said. “I want to be outright league champions and so do all the girls. We don’t want to say we’re the co-three-peat champions, we want to say three-peat.”
Maybe more important than the league title to Roaring Fork, is to end the drought against Basalt which has lasted more than six seasons.
“I feel real comfortable,” Roaring Fork coach Jacky Gaddis said. “This is the first time since I’ve
been coaching this group of girls, that there’s just a calmness. They are just ready.”
The Longhorns extended that streak in their first meeting this season, downing Roaring Fork 84-60. Although that score may be skewed, considering the game came just days after a rough weekend in Steamboat Springs when a number of Rams players suffered carbon monoxide poisoning due to a leak in their rental unit.
Five different Basalt players reached double figures in the first meeting, led by Mariah Mulcahy’s 21 point performance. Mulcahy, who missed time recently due to a tailbone injury, is healthy and ready to go, as is the rest of the team, according to Alcorta.
“My girls are so squirrely, and that’s always a good sign as a coach – when they are so excited they can hardly control themselves,” Alcorta said.
Mulcahy, at 15.2 points per game, is one of three Longhorns averaging better than 15 points a contest. Autumn Caughern carries an 18.1-point average and Lauren Redfern, thanks in part to strong play down the stretch, averages 16.3.
“Lauren has developed into a very fine post player,” Alcorta said. “Ever since the Aspen game (Feb. 4), she has really been the gel that has put everything together. She’s been phenomenal on the boards and her drop step is incredible.”
Roaring Fork counters with another one of the top post players in the league in Tarn Udall. She averages 15 points per game and her performance will be key in complementing the Rams’ outside shooters – particularly guards Ashley Jensen and Carly Velasquez. Jensen averages 13.9 points per game and Velasquez pitches in 11.
Jessi Rochel has also had a solid season, averaging 9.6 points per game.
“Jessi has just stepped up to the plate,” Gaddis said. “The girl is on fire and has no fear under the basket. She’s been a key player to our success.”
While a league title isn’t at stake in the boys battle between Roaring Fork and Basalt, don’t expect the crowd to be any less raucous.
And it is an important game, particularly for the Longhorns.
Roaring Fork (9-4, 11-7) is secure in its third-place position and is guaranteed a first-round district home game next week.
Basalt (6-7, 6-12), however, is battling for home-court advantage in a fourth-place tie with Hotchkiss. Hotchkiss finished its regular season Thursday night against Gunnison (no results were available at press time).
In the first meeting Roaring Fork had the upper hand in a 71-59 victory.
Neither team enters the game with much momentum. Basalt lost its last four games, while Roaring Fork is on a two-game skid.
Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. at the Big House at Basalt High School.
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I have read every book that Mitch Albom has written, most of them more than once.