An epic weekend is here for several Basalt Longhorn teams. Some of these student-athletes are on the doorstep of greatness, while others can keep their dreams for this fall alive by springing back from their latest results.
Basalt softball continues on its big roll. Saturday’s regional tournament brought the Lamar Savages to the high country from the southeastern plains. Lamar had eliminated the Longhorns from the state tournament three years ago, 15-4 in the first round. This time Basalt turned the tables.
Basalt jumped on Lamar early, the Savages unable to solve the battery of junior pitcher Maya Lindgren and senior catcher Zoe Vozick. The ’Horns built a 7-0 lead by the 3rd inning, but in the 5th and 6th innings, Basalt had a few fielding errors, some of Lindgren’s throws weren’t as sharp, and the Savages got back in it, 7-4. Coach David Miller gathered his team in the top of the 6th, and says, “we just told ’em, ‘it’s time to finish.’ That echoes our theme for the season, ‘Fight To The Finish.’ And they responded.”
The Longhorns got the final out of that inning, scored three more runs in the bottom half, and ended it on a short grounder in the top of the 7th inning, tagging the batter out on the way to 1st base, claiming their 22nd victory and the regional championship, 10-4.
Miller said he couldn’t have been happier after that. “I’m proud of them. They let up there for a little while, but they showed who they were, and really did a good job.”
The 3A state tournament begins Friday at the Aurora Sports Park. The ’Horns go in as the second seed, facing the 15th ranked La Junta Tigers in their opener at 12:15 p.m. The Longhorns won’t overlook La Junta, because the Tigers beat them 13-6 at the regional level a year ago.
Those who can’t make it to Aurora may listen for the play-by-play beginning at noon on Always Mountain Time Radio’s coloradosportsnetwork.com. Or, re-live last weekend’s victory by logging on now. The win over Lamar is posted there, when you click the Longhorn logo.
Cross country title secured
On Friday, Oct. 18, Longhorn Cross Country won the girls’ team title at their regional meet, on Basalt’s home course at Crown Mountain Park.
Junior Sierra Bower led the way, going out strong but not pushing herself as hard at this stage as she had last year. Cloudy, damp conditions slowed things a bit, and Bower still separated from the pack late in the 5k as she usually does. Bower has a strong team around her. She won in 19 minutes, 8 seconds, and had plenty of backup. The Longhorns’ Katelyn Maley ran third, Sara Levy 6th, then Lily Gillis and Ava Lane came in 12th and 13th, respectively.
Putting their top five girls in the top 15 clinched the team title for Basalt. Bower told the Journal, “I’m very excited! Going to state with the team is something we’ve all been looking forward to this whole season, so it’s super nice to have that spot secured.”
Coach Ron Lund was pleased. “Everyone ran as strong as they have all year. They did what they needed to do, and we’re on to the next step.” Aspen runners took 2nd, 4th, 8th, and 9th in the girls’ race. They also head for state as a team, taking second in the region.
Says Lund, “We knew going in we had a really good chance, but we knew Aspen was going to be formidable. So yeah, six points is pretty tight.”
The Longhorns have another competitor going to state as an individual. Senior Tucker Bruce ran 13th in the boys’ race, so he makes it to the state meet in Colorado Springs. Coach Lund said, “Tucker’s our lone senior on the boys’ side. He ran his heart out, so it’s good to see him go.”
Lund won’t speculate on just how well the girls’ team might do, but is feeling positive.
“I think we’re a legitimate top five, and we’re gonna go for better than that. So we’ll see.” The state meet is Saturday, at the Norris-Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs.
Loss by football Longhorns
Suffering their first setback of the fall last week were Basalt’s football Longhorns. They’d been 6–0, ranked as high as seventh, and had been second in the all-important RPI standings that seed the post-season playoffs.
But the Delta Panthers had gotten knocked off by number-one Rifle the week before, felt like they had something to prove, and they took it out on the Longhorns, with quarterback Nolan Bynum throwing a 40-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage to go up 7-0.
Basalt’s first play looked like a strong 20-yard run by sophomore back Cole Dombrowski, but Panther tacklers forced a fumble, other Panthers ran the ball to the 2-yard line, and they punched it into the end zone on the next play to take a 14-0 lead only 50 seconds into the game.
From there, the Longhorns seemed unable to get their usual head of steam. Despite Matty Gillis passing for 125 yards, he got sacked six times. One touchdown pass to Jackson Rapaport in the 4th quarter was all of the Basalt offensive production. Delta won 35-6.
Coach Carl Frerichs said, “They out coached us and outplayed us, so hats off to their coaching staff. I’m proud of how our guys played in the second half, but that’s not a consolation prize for how we played in the first half.”
The ’Horns are far from done, though, with a six win, one loss record going into this week.
“Truthfully, we’re still in a good place. We have the same record as Delta. We’re still excited for where we are in our season,” according to Frerichs.
On Friday night for the 2A Western Slope League game of the year, the 8th-ranked Longhorns host number one Rifle. The Bears shut out Aspen 49-0 last week.
Frerichs thinks despite Basalt’s loss, his club, a playoff team the last three years, can change that, saying, “Rifle does a great job. They’re disciplined, they don’t get themselves tackled for losses or turn the ball over. So we’re just going to have to play disciplined football and be ready to battle. But I really believe if we’re ready to battle, we can stick with these guys.”
Basalt can’t finish any worse than 6-3. They’re still in the top 10 in the RPI, so the Longhorns will be in the playoffs come the first week of November. They’d like to improve their position, though, by shaking things up with a win over Rifle.
Always Mountain Time is webcasting that game, as they have all football season, on coloradosportsnetwork.com. Kickoff is 7 p.m., and the live coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. Friday evening.