Vail Valley preps: Scherer, Longhorns prevail over Huskies
Vail, CO Colorado
BASALT – Blake Scherer bailed out Basalt multiple times Thursday night.
With 1 minute remaining in the fourth quarter against 4A Battle Mountain, Scherer confidently buried a 3-pointer from the corner to square the game at 34. Little more than 30 seconds later, he gave the Longhorns a brief one-point cushion with an acrobatic jumper in the lane.
And with the game on the line in overtime, everyone in an overwhelmingly tense Basalt High School gym knew who was getting the ball.
“He’s the guy who’s been battle-tested,” Longhorns head coach Jon Pettit said of Scherer. “He’s been there before.”
It showed. With 16 seconds remaining in the extra period, moments after the Huskies’ Eric Gurule knotted the game with two clutch free throws, Scherer immediately pushed the ball up court. He split two defenders, then spotted teammate Carl Riggins all alone underneath the basket for an easy lay-in.
Moments later, the student section spilled onto the floor. The Longhorns could finally exhale. They had pulled off a dramatic 44-42 victory, one that is sure to keep them smiling during the winter break.
“When they inbound the ball to me, I don’t really feel pressure,” said Scherer, who scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the second half and overtime. “We had a guy last year who (wanted the ball in those types of situations). I learned a lot from watching Omar (Lopez).”
It appeared as though Basalt had this game under control early. They jumped out to a 10-point lead early in the third quarter – a cushion that seemed more than comfortable considering Battle Mountain scored just two points in the first quarter and 11 in the first half against a ball-hawking Longhorns defense.
A trio of Huskies guards combined for 22 turnovers.
“That’s why we’re struggling right now,” Battle Mountain head coach Tommy Padilla said. “I knew (Basalt’s defensive pressure) would get to our young kids. They need to learn to settle down and relax.”
The Huskies turned to senior Irving Ruacho to provide a spark. He did just that, hitting two jumpers, then nailing a 3 in the waning seconds of the third quarter to trim the Longhorns’ lead to just one.
In the fourth, Ruacho squared the game at 29 with a jumper, then drove to the basket and scored to give Battle Mountain a rare lead with 4:18 remaining. He finished with 18 points.
The Huskies increased that advantage to as many as five with less than 2 minutes remaining in regulation.
Then, Scherer went to work. He hit two free throws, then tied the game with a clutch 3. He got a shot in the lane to fall with 28 seconds to play, putting Basalt ahead, 36-35.
Battle Mountain’s Cody Hervert hit one free throw to tie things with 19 seconds remaining, then Scherer’s attempted game winner rattled out and the horn sounded.
No matter. The Longhorns kept feeding Scherer the ball in the four-minute overtime period. He did not flinch.
With about 50 seconds remaining, he fearlessly drove right to the basket, stretching the lead to four at 41-37. After the Huskies pulled to within one on a free throw from Hervert and a basket from Gurule, Scherer went 1-for-2 from the foul line with 23 seconds to play.
Soon after, Gurule squared the game at the line.
Scherer made one final play.
“The game was tied, so there was no reason not to [push the ball] and take the last shot,” he said. “I was trying to get a lay-up but no one was guarding Carl, so why not (pass)?”
His bounce pass was perfect, and Riggins’ shot helped seal a second win this week for Basalt, which now is 2-3.
The Huskies (4-3) have dropped three straight.
“It was a heartbreaker, but the kids fought,” Padilla said. “We’re a young team. That was obvious out there tonight.”
Longhorns girls pound Huskies
The Battle Mountain girls snapped their 58-game skid Tuesday against Lake County. Thursday, the Huskies were hoping to start a new streak in Basalt.
The Longhorns had other plans, however. They overcame offensive struggles and foul trouble in the early going, closing the second quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 22-16 lead into the break. They cruised from there, outscoring Battle Mountain, 33-11, in the second half en route to a 55-27 victory – their second straight after consecutive defeats to open the season.
“I just think that they had some nerves with this being the first home game. After the first half, they settled in,” first-year Basalt head coach Lauren Redfern said.
“Absolutely (the defense played well). I just wish they didn’t foul so much.”
While the Longhorns’ full-court pressure did produce scores of turnovers and easy scoring chances, the fouls piled up – and fast. The Huskies found themselves in the bonus with 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Had the visitors not missed 8 of their 10 free-throw attempts in the second quarter, they likely would have led at halftime.
The Basalt offense finally hit its stride in the final two-plus minutes of the second quarter, when Lindsay Corzine, Jamie Matherly and Stephanie Alvarado all scored baskets.
That momentum carried over in the third quarter – despite Matherly’s absence; the senior guard suffered an apparent ankle injury moments after the half and did not return.
The Longhorns led, 40-25, heading into the final quarter. That lead ballooned to 28 down the stretch.
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