GYPSUM — Here’s a scary situation — Eagle Valley girls basketball was clinging to a 24-7 lead over Steamboat Springs after one quarter on Thursday night in Gypsum.
Of course, most teams would like a 17-point lead after eight minutes, but the Devils have had some issues playing with the lead this season. Eagle Valley was cruising against Central 27-6 after one and hung on for a 49-41 win last week. But, apparently, Eagle Valley is figuring out this big-lead thing, going on to down the Sailors, 49-34.
“We talked about playing with the lead,” Devils coach Sam Bartlett said. “We came out hot again. We played a little bit better with the lead. We still lost the last three quarters by two points, but it didn’t get within single digits, which was nice.”
Bartlett still wants to see better free-throw shooting and for his charges to pound it inside late in the game, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
All jacked up
Just like last week against Central, the Devils (8-3 overall and 4-1 in the 4A Slope) looked like they drank a lot of coffee right before the game. Taylor Martin and Ashley Floyd gave Eagle Valley a 4-3 lead early. Floyd had a big first quarter with 10 points.
“We just all worked well together, good passing,” said Floyd, who had a career-high with 15 points. “It was just having confidence, just thinking I was going to make the shot.”
She gave the Devils the lead for good with a running jumper at 8-7 with 4:01 left, and then Eagle Valley went into overdrive. Mariel Gutierrez, Jessie Chambers and Taylor Martin all had buckets and Floyd ended the period with a flourish.
Bartlett played a lot of his roster in the second, including freshman Kylie Martin, who had a nice layup. Up 31-17 at the half, the Devils applied the much-needed coup de grace in the third.
Floyd had two quick scores, followed by a Gutierrez steal and layup combination. Perhaps, more importantly, the Devils stayed aggressive on defense, pressing the Sailors into turnovers.
“I’d say it was both,” Sailors coach Mack Spitellie. “They played hard and we didn’t. We have those nights. When we play hard, we’re in everything. When we don’t, you see what we get.”
Steamboat’s Hunter Anderson had a scary moment in a third-quarter collision with Megan Asmussen. Hunter got the worst of it and did not return to the game. Sailors senior Amaris Duryea led Steamboat (6-4, 1-3) with eight points.
Sailors sail to win
Somewhere in Steamboat Springs, there has to be a factory that turns out tall basketball players who can jar a 3. It’s as good an explanation as any. (Yes, the imperial coaching line of Kelly Meek and Luke DeWolfe might be a factor, too.)
Four different Sailors combined for seven 3s, including four in the second quarter, on Thursday night, and, with their air-tight defense, that was plenty in a 59-39 win over Eagle Valley boys basketball.
And thus, the Steamboat ship was righted after a tough one-point loss in Delta last weekend.
“It’s great to get a little momentum back and kind of get your feet underneath you,” DeWolfe said. “That’s a tough road trip — at Palisade, at Delta — especially for us. It’s great to see the kids play well and log a lot of minutes, get some momentum, and, hopefully, get the ball rolling.”
Making things more difficult for the Devils was that the Sailors are so deep that they did 5-for-5 substitutions for most of the evening, staying fresh. Eagle Valley kept it close until the Sailors unleashed the aerial attack of three-straight 3s, the first from Matthew Lanning. Robi Powers knocked down the next two, the second of which was from way downtown. That pushed the Sailors out to a 23-8 lead with 4:30 left in the half.
The Devils were effective offensively when they moved the ball quickly against Steamboat. Prime examples of that came with a fast pass from Noah Ejnes to Turner Glissman and Travis Edgar to Arturo Loera for field goals in the second quarter.
Leading just 28-20 at the half, Steamboat’s Zach Dunklin hit twice from long range to start the third quarter, and everything opened up after that for the Sailors. Steamboat was able to pound it inside the rest of the evening.
“They’re tough,” Devils coach Jim Bair said. “My guys battled really hard to close it within eight at the half. When they came out and hit the 3 from the corner to start the second half, I could see our guys deflating a little bit and that was the story of the second half.”
Steamboat evened its league mark at 2-2 and is 7-3 overall, while Eagle Valley fell to 2-3 and 4-7.
“I think with the top four or five in the conference, whoever wants it’s the most, whoever executes the most, especially who’s playing well night-in, night-out,” DeWolfe said. “Consistency is going to be big.”
Steamboat heads home for a pair with Battle Mountain on Saturday, while Eagle Valley does the Summit County two-step on Tuesday. The Devils girls are in Farmer’s Korner, while the boys host the Tigers.