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Eagle Valley’s Medina, Comroe, Ponce take silver at state

There really aren’t words suitable for a newspaper.

Eagle Valley’s Matthew Medina finished in second place at the 3A state tournament at 106 pounds on Saturday night, falling to Weld Central’s Roberto Estrada, 3-0.

Meanwhile, the Devils’ Lucas Comroe earned a silver medal at state for the second consecutive February, this year at 138 pounds. Comroe dropped a 10-1 decision to Valley’s Isah Rios.

And, yes, Eagle Valley’s Cody Ponce finished second at 220 with a 4-1 loss to Bayfield’s John Foutz. Like Comroe, Pince finished second at state last season.

All three are seniors. All are done with distinguished careers at Eagle Valley. Comroe’s silver medal, while frustratingly not the desired color, is his fourth state medal in as many winters. It doesn’t feel like it now, but he has had a tremendous career.

Ponce wraps with two podiums, both seconds. He’s been a stud, part of a great run of Eagle Valley wrestling.

Medina’s been a mainstay at 106 pounds for the Devils for his entire run with Eagle Valley, a model of consistency.

Gold is the goal. Bronze is cool because one has won his last match. Silver, while obviously better than bronze, is unfairly the ugly duckling.

How do you as the wrestler, the coach, the family, the fan, and, yes, the sportswriter put it all in perspective?

Ponce, Comroe and Martinez had spectacular seasons. It just doesn’t feel like it right now.

Is it better to have lost a major decision with no what-ifs like Comroe or a tight 3-0 match like Medina? Who knows? Neither of these Devils expected a Saturday night like this.

Three entire tremendous seasons filled with a lot of hard work and a ton of success came down to 18 tough minutes.

Comroe got in trouble late in the first period as he was trying to shoot Vally’s Rios. Rios, the now two-time champion at 138, parried his charge and took him down for two points. Add in three points of back time, and Comroe faced a 5-0 deficit after one period.

Rios took bottom to start the second and escaped for a sixth point. With 53 seconds left in the middle stanza, Rios took Comroe down again. Comroe bounced up for an escape, but Rios answered with another takedown and 10-1 lead.

In the third, Comroe was likely thinking he needed a pin, but Rios kept a firm grip on him and never let him out of the bottom position.

Medina and Estrada were scoreless after two minutes. Estrada started the second on the bottom and powered out for an escape. Medina tried to do the same in the third, and yet Estrada rode him, adding two points for the win.

Ponce fell behind earl as Foutz got the two-point takedown. Foutz added a two-point reversal to start the second. Ponce got on the board with a one-point stalling penalty in the third but never could get going against Foutz.

Huskies basketball seals a home playoff game

Battle Mountain basketball is in the playoffs and will be home Wednesday against an opponent to be determined.

The Huskies finished the regular season Friday night with a resounding 69-45 victory at Rifle. Battle Mountain (13-10) did a nice job of regrouping 24 hours after an emotional 67-66 win against Eagle Valley. 

“Everybody really stepped up,” Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue said. “I think Eagle Valley was a hard-fought game, and then you turn around, and when it’s us and Rifle, it’s a slow-down, (metaphorically) throw-body-punches game. We came out and took control of the game.”

And that led to Liam McKenney with 32 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Owen Ruotolo had 13 points. Daniel Redinger came off the bench and played a pivotal role and Thorne Hensel added a midcourt 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Huskies were No. 29 in the ratings-percentage index on Saturday afternoon with more games to be played throughout the state. In theory, they would be matched with the No. 35 team, which was Holy Family in this snapshot of time.

The bracket will be finalized over Sunday and Monday. Then the athletic directors of the schools need to get together to negotiate a time, but mark Wednesday on your calendars.

Saints fall at Soroco

And this, boys and girls, is why Vail Christian and Soroco have a rivalry.

Soroco sank Vail Christian boys basketball’s hope of a 2A Western Slope title Friday night, upsetting the Saints, 73-66.

The Rams knocked down 14 3s, including six from downtown during a 28-point first quarter.

Before anyone runs out and jumps into the Eagle River or nearby Lake Willmore, the Saints (15-3) are still the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A District 5 Tournament.

Vail Christian hosts the winner of Monday’s 8-9 play-in game — Hotchkiss at Rangely — at 6 p.m. TuesdayAs was the case last year, if the Saints win the district tournament, they host regionals, regardless of the ratings-percentage index (on Saturday, it was No. 12) March 6-7.

While Vail Christian’s success of late — both in football and basketball — has perhaps taken the edge of some Saints-Rams encounters, Friday was a reminder of why this rivalry is must-see sports, not to be confused with NBC’s Thursday night TV lineup of yore.

The Rams don’t like the Saints — and the feeling is mutual — and Soroco had one of its best games of the year.

“We tried four different defenses on them. They beat us. Hats off to them,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said.

Alec Moritz had 28 points and 14 rebounds — not too bad of an evening — while Jamison Lee finished with 17 and Kaleb Williams had 11.

Vail Christian’s girls fell 57-48 but rallied from a 28-9 halftime deficit to make it close. The ladies play at West Grand at 6 p.m. Monday to start their district tournament.

Huskies hockey on a roll

Battle Mountain hockey is riding a six-game winning streak into the playoffs, which start at Dobson Arena at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Huskies  (10-7-2) capped the regular season Friday night with a 4-2  Senior Night win over Crested Butte.

Jack Suhadolink lit the lamp twice, and Luke Grimaldi and Joey Beveridge also scored.

“We had a rough patch at in the middle of the season, but I’m pleased with the way we finished,” Huskies coach Derek Byron said.

With the final regular-season game, Beveridge Parker Nash, Alex Parliament, Carson Dietz, Bella Borski, Nate Anderson, and Grimaldi took their bows.

As of Saturday night, Battle Mountain was ranked No. 13 in the ratings-percentage index and would host Castleview on Wednesday. As always with RPI speculation, your mileage may vary.

Huskies’ Jeremiah Vasquez takes bronze at state

The Vasquez family has turned Denver into Minturn East.

Battle Mountain heavyweight Jeremiah Vasquez captured third place at Saturday’s 4A state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Vasquez pinned Pueblo South’s Victor Sosa at the 4:22 mark of their match. And his family — a myriad of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and, yes, his dad, Angelo, who also is his coach — went nuts.

“We have a big group, 20-something fans,” Angelo said. “We’re filling the Pepsi Center better than Battle Mountain High School.”

Jeremiah, a junior, is the first Battle Mountain wrestler to make the state podium since Jesus (Freddy) Morales, 132 pounds, and Wyatt Harwood, 170 pounds, finished fourth in 2016.

Those fourth-place finishes were the first podiums at state since the school moved up to 4A for the 2001 wrestling season. So Jeremiah Vasquez’s bronze medal is the best state finish for a Huskies wrestler during the past 20 years. In a fun bit of trivia, the first Battle Mountain wrestler to qualify for state at the 4A level was some guy named Angelo Vasquez in 2001.

“I felt really excited,” Jeremiah said. “But I’m more thankful for my family who watched me.”

Key matches

Vasquez started his tournament by pinning Lewis-Palmer’s Matthew Icke in 62 seconds.

In an ironic storyline that the state tournament produces, Vasquez got a boost from a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Andy Garcia, of Pueblo East.

For those who don’t follow Colorado wrestling, Garcia is the three-time heavyweight 4A state champ and was heavily favored to make it 4-for-4 late Saturday night.

That Vasquez could hang with Garcia and avoid being pinned instilled him with confidence.

“I wrestled with one of the greatest wrestlers the state of Colorado has produced,” Vasquez said. “Hopefully, I’ll become the state champion next year.”

Vasquez started working his way back through the consolation bracket by beating Grand Junction Central’s Israel Lima, 8-2. Next up was a pin of Greeley Central’s Victor Martinez.

That set up the rematch. One of Vasquez’s two losses this season was to Broomfield’s Tyler Carpenter last week at the Class 4A Region 2 Tournament.

Sheer revenge was one motivator. The second was that Vasquez felt that Carpenter celebrated a little too much on the podium last week.

Vasquez’s ace in the hole was that Garcia had pinned Carpenter earlier in the season at the Rumble in the Rockies, while the Huskies junior had just survived six minutes with the likely champ.

Young Vasquez thought he could take him, while Coach Vasquez had confidence for yet another reason.

“We knew that if we were able to get him into the second and third period, he was going to struggle,” Angelo said. “We needed to take him into deep waters.”

Jeremiah did, and the result was a 5-2 victory. And for the record, as much as he was trying to zone out all the noise at the Pepsi Center, this match was when he could hear his family the most.

 Vasquez finished the run with the pin of Sosa, and Team Vasquez, including dad, is a happy bunch.

“It’s so fun to watch,” Angelo said. “It’s just a proud moment. So many Vasquezes have gone through Battle Mountain, and he’s the first on the wall (of the wrestling room as a state medalist).”

Eagle Valley wrestling trio in finals

Eagle Valley wrestling’s Matthew Medina, Lucas Comroe and Cody Ponce are having the longest 24 hours of their lives right now.

Medina (106 pounds), Comroe (138) and Ponce (220) are 3-0 in their respective weight classes at the 3A state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver. They are in their state-title matches.

And they’re waiting for 7 tonight, when the 106-pounders — that’s Medina — kick off the title bouts.

Comroe and Ponce have danced this dance before. Both made the state finals one year ago and lost title matches. It’s been driving them for a year. Medina missed state by finishing fifth at regionals, and that’s been his motivation for 53 weeks now.

Medina traveled to Denver to wrestle and his first-round opponent was a guy from Rifle, Hunter Bercher. Medina put Bercher down in 3:12 and then squeezed out a 6-4 win over Bennett’s John Faczek in the quarterfinals.

For the semifinals, Medina scored a 9-1 major decision against Valley’s Javan Valdez. Medina gets Weld Central’s Alex Estrada tonight for the belt. Estrada is 47-0 and the No. 1 seed. That said, Medina is a rare senior in the 106-pound division — only three of the 16 who started state are seniors in this bracket. Experience does count.

Comroe is back in the finals against Valley’s Isiah Rios. If there is such a thing as a smooth path at state — there really isn’t — Comroe’s had it. The senior took care of Alameda’s Ray Martinez in 2:54 during the first round.

Comroe scored an 11-6 win over Riverdale Ridge’s Domonic Cerda and made short work of Florence’s Josh Thornton, pinning him in the semis in 1:33.

While it’s a No. 1 versus No. 2 bout at 138, Eagle Valley’s Ponce has been busting up the 220-pound bracket. Like Medina, Ponce came to Denver to face a Western Slope wrestler in the first round. Ponce pinned Delta’s Eli Miramontes in 74 seconds.

Ponce registered the upset by seed in the quarters. Not a regional champion, Ponce was No. 8 in the state bracket and he took down No. 1-ranked Drew Book, of Sterling. That was a second-period pin.

Again, it’s an upset by seed, but not the University of Maryland-Baltimore County over Virginia two springs ago. Ponce did win the Warrior Classic in December. He’s a known quantity.

Ponce did cause some cardiac moments in the semifinals. He won 3-2 by UTB — ultimate tiebreaker — over Pagosa Springs’ Skylar Hill to advance to the championship. Ponce takes on Bayfield’s John Foutz tonight — after a long wait.

The state-wrestling tournament is cruel, and five Eagle Valley wrestlers found that out Friday. Logan Stephens (113), Josh Boeke (120), Manuel Heredia (132), Jason Morrison (152) and Brian Garcia (195) were all eliminated.

As the Vail Daily went to press, Eagle Valley was in fifth place in Class 3A with 67 points behind Jefferson (88), Eaton (78.5), Valley (77.5), and Pagosa Springs (67.5).

Huskies in the hunt

As of press time, Battle Mountain’s three state qualifiers were all in the running for medals at the 4A state tourney at the Pepsi Center.

Battle Mountain heavyweight Jeremiah Vasquez pinned Lewis-Palmer’s Matthew Icke in 1:02. Vasquez lost to Andy Garcia, of Pueblo East, 5-0. The Huskies junior is wrestling back against Israel Lima of Gand Junction Central.

Victor Ortiz (152) and Anthony Sanchez (160) both lost their first-round matches but bounced back for wins and are still alive for the podium, which is the top six at state.

A look back on Huskies-Devils hoops

We really ought to play every Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley boys basketball game in Edwards.

The Devils really shouldn’t mind. They’re 2-2 in Edwards the past four years against their archrivals and 1-3 against the Huskies in Gypsum.

The last four games in Edwards:

  • 2017: Devin Huffman slams it down, and the Huskies upset the Devils, 49-45, in overtime, costing Eagle Valley a share of the league title.
  • 2018: Eagle Valley goes beyond nuclear from 3-point land and beats the Huskies, 110-102, in a 32-minute game. (This is still about the craziest game I have ever covered.)
  • 2019: The Devils take down the favored Huskies, 82-78, in triple overtime. (Freud has a heart attack on deadline.)
  • Thursday night: Liam McKenny drops 34 points on the Devils, but the Huskies barely get by Eagle Valley, 67-66.
Battle Mountain’s Liam McKenny has a pretty decent night against Eagle Valley with 34 points. (Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com)
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You want a good game? Play it in Edwards, and let’s make it a darn day game for your sportswriter.

Here’s all the stuff I couldn’t get in on deadline:

Pfft on McKenny

We might just talk about McKenny going off for 34. But the way I see it, the Huskies won by one point. Karsen Williams scored the first field goal for the Huskies; thus they couldn’t have won without him.

It’s surprising we didn’t run the headline, “Karsen leads Huskies to victory.”

Obviously, it was Senior Night, and coach Philip Tronsrue had to start eight seniors in five spots, and he’s a really bad coach for not being able to do that.

Hakeem Dath was out with an injury, and Tronsrue sat McKenny and Owen Ruotolo so that Thorne Hensel and Williams could start. After all, McKenny and Ruotolo are used to pregame intros

Seniors starting on Senior Night should happen, but it can be scary. Tronsrue and I were joking about Senior Night 2006 after Thursday night’s game. The Huskies had to beat Delta for a share of the league title and Steamboat Springs needed to beat Glenwood Springs for the Huskies to win the 4A Slope outright.

The 2006 Huskies had too many seniors for Senior Night — work on that, Phil — and the Huskies juggled their lineup and had to come back against Delta, 52-51.

Like Williams, senior Joe Ortega started and had two points.

Headline: “Ortega leads Huskies to league title.” For the record, it was, “At last: league champs.” (And a rare, belated thank-you to Steamboat for beating Glenwood, 53-39, that night.)

OK, McKenny

The senior scored 66 points against Eagle Valley in two games. That makes your mark. As I wrote in the game story, McKenny was the one factor in this matchup that was unaccountable. The Devils had no answer.

Yes, he’s 6-foot-6, and the Devils and a lot of other teams have struggled with him, but McKenny’s had to battle as well at times.

Opponents have collapsed their defenses on him. At times, the calls haven’t gone his way, and he’s taken himself out of the game mentally.

There were many turning points Thursday night, and one of them came with 4:37 left when McKenny got his fourth foul. Nonetheless, he scored six of Battle Mountain’s final seven points.

Pretty clutch.

Coach Brandt falls on the grenade

A telling quote from Eagle Valley coach Justin Brandt after Thursday’s game: “I think we’ve had six games within five points this year, and we’ve won only two of them. That’s on me. We challenge the players to get better, and this is a situation where I have to get better.”

Actually, Eagle Valley has had eight games decided by five points or fewer and the team is 3-5. Of particular frustration is two losses in three days to Rifle and Battle Mountain by a total of three points.

This is Brandt taking one for the team, a veteran move by a young coach in his second year.

Of course, Brandt second-guesses everything as he replays the season in his brain. But the players influence the game the most, and we have a large sample size in 20 games and 6-14 record in Gypsum.

That said, this doesn’t feel like a 6-14 squad. Eagle Valley scraps and simply never quits, which is kind of annoying when covering the Devils because they’re never out of a game. (I’m joking, people.)

Keegan Garvey has a fantastic arrogance required in a 3-point assassin. (And I can’t believe one of Mike Garvey’s kids is a senior.) Carlos Sanchez is so quick to the rim, and then he just drops a fall-away jumper like he did in the third quarter? Good luck guarding him. Bryan Martinez and Branden Vigil don’t play like sophomores.  

If they make the playoffs, the Devils are going to be a tough out.

What the …

With rivalry games, the spotlight shines on unusual places:

  • Eagle Valley’s Tristen Clark didn’t play organized hoops until this season. He had 13 points on Thursday night.
  • Big men 3s: Clark and McKenny both hit from downtown with 13 seconds of each other.
  • Patterson with the 3? Who are you and what did you do with Dalton? 
  • A small play that was huge: Battle Mountain got the ball to Ruotolo in the waning seconds. He is the one person you can’t foul because the kid is automatic.

Playoff scenarios

Battle Mountain is in the tournament. It’s just a question of where. The Huskies were No. 31 in the ratings-percentage index as of this writing. They want to be No. 32 or better to host a first-round game next week.

Eagle Valley is very much on the bubble at No. 46 — 48 teams qualify. Today’s regular-season finale at Palisade is pretty much a play-in game.

Battle Mountain nips Eagle Valley, 67-66

EDWARDS — Battle Mountain boys basketball, as it turns out, will not shift all of its home games to Gypsum next year.

After the visiting team had won the last five rivalry games dating back to 2018, the Huskies finally held serve on their home court, defeating the Devils, 67-66, on Thursday night in Edwards.

While Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley in Edwards had the requisite weirdness —  two of the last three Huskies-Devils games had gone to overtime and Eagle Valley won, 110-102, in regulation in 2018 — the solution was relatively simple on Thursday.

Just as they did in their 79-62 win over the Devils in Gypsum, the Huskies got the ball to Liam McKenny. The Huskies senior had 32 points last month against Eagle Valley. He scored 34 on Thursday night.

“We should have that,” Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue said of his 6-foot-6 center. “When you take a look at his height versus (Eagle Valley), even if they collapse everyone on, he should get his shots.”

He was the one factor in an otherwise even matchup for which Eagle Valley (6-14) could not account during both rivalry games this winter.

“That comes from matchups and teammates giving me the ball in the right spot,” McKenny said. “From my sophomore year to our games this year, I’ve had a great time playing in the atmosphere of both gyms.”

That is not to say it didn’t get exciting Thursday night:. The Devils started the game with an 8-0 run, which was broken up by Karsen Williams scoring the first bucket for Battle Mountain. If you had the Huskies senior scoring the first field goal for the home team in a prop bet, you’re a millionaire this morning.

Speaking of longshots, Eagle Valley’s Tristen Clark went off for 13 points, adding diversity to the Devils’ attack.

The Huskies led by as many as nine points in the third quarter, but as has been the case all season, they did make it easy on themselves (a frustrating factor). As has been the case all season, Eagle Valley didn’t make it easy on its opponent (a really frustrating factor, given how many close games the Devils have lost this year).

“I think we’ve had six games within five points this year and we’ve won only two of them,” Devils coach Justin Brandt said. “That’s on me. We challenge the players to get better, and this is a situation where I have to get better.”

Every time the Huskies seemed to get what seemed like a comfortable six-point lead, the Devils came through with 3s from Bryan Martinez or Keegan Garvey. Even when McKenny, playing with four fouls for the final 4:37, put in two more buckets from a busy evening for a 64-58 lead, the Devils’ Carlos Sanchez hit from downtown.

McKenny came back with his 33rd and 34th points for a 66-61 lead with 2:54 left, only to see Garvey strike again for 3.

Battle Mountain entered Thursday night’s game No. 33 in the ratings-percentage index. The Huskies would like to be No. 32 or lower to host a playoff game Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Eagle Valley started the night at No. 42, with 48 teams getting postseason invites.

Devils win lidlifter

You can’t stop Eagle Valley girls basketball —you can only hope to contain it.

The Devils seem determined to finish this season with a flourish. They won their third in a row, defeating archrival Battle Mountain, 57-41, Thursday night in Edwards.

And, yep, those 57 points were a season-high.

“It’s really exciting,” Devils senior A.J. Martinez said. “We feel like our confidence level has skyrocketed since the Glenwood Springs game to now. The hypedness we have on the bench is just so fun.”

For the record, if Martinez says “hypedness” is a word, it’s a word.

Eagle Valley (5-14) stayed in it during the first half with the 3 ball, and it took over the game with a 21-4 run during the third quarter. Sieairra Rivera started it with a free throw, and then the Js did a lot of the damage. C.J. Jurcak and A.J. Martinez combined for the team’s next nine points.

“We go in thinking it’s our game to play,” Martinez said. “We play as a team and as a family most importantly. That leads to a great outcome.”

Eagle Valley’s Lauren Hauseman politely interrupted that run with her own 3. As Eagle Valley was running to a 46-31 third-quarter lead, the Huskies (6-15) dug themselves into serious foul trouble that would hinder any chances of a comeback.

Battle Mountain’s teams are at Rifle today, while Eagle Valley’s squads are at Palisade on Saturday.

Thursday was also Senior Night, and the Huskies honored Cayla Woodworth, Quinn Hilgartner, Ava Ybarra, Maggie Skidmore, McKenny, Dalton Patterson, Thorne Hensel, Owen Ruotolo, Hakeem Dath, Harrison Rubis, Jack Sullivan and Williams.

Battle Mountain hockey tops Columbine, 6-4

VAIL —  Attaboy, Alex.

Battle Mountain’s Alex Parliament, on a helper from Steven Dent with 6:35 left in the game, helped lift Huskies hockey to a 6-4 win over Columbine on Wednesday night at Vail’s Dobson Ice Arena.

The Huskies iced it with an empty-net goal from Joey Beveridge with 38 seconds left.

All in all, it was a satisfactory ending to an otherwise heart-stopping evening.

“I think we showed a lot of grit,” Huskies coach Derek Byron said. “Penalties have been a problem. It’s something we need to fix. But battling back twice was great.”

The Huskies had to rally from a 1-0 deficit and then again when the game was tied at four during the third period.

The Huskies seemed to be cruising during the second period, leading 4-1, courtesy of two five-on-three goals.

The five-on-three can be a fickle mistress.

A team’s got to score in those situations. If they don’t, hockey karma dictates they will pay. Thus, even though you’ve got two more skaters on the ice, it’s a pressure situation.

Up 2-1 during the second period, the Huskies were gifted a full two minutes of five-on-three and didn’t capitalize, an ominous development.

“It gets frustrating, more than anything,” Byron said. “But give them credit. They stuck with the power play. They moved the puck well and did the job.”

The visiting Rebels were quite generous, keeping it a party in the sin bin. On Battle Mountain’s second 5-on-3, Luke Grimaldi to Carson Dietz — his second goal of the game — did the trick.

The Huskies continued the five-on-three action as Parker Nash lit the lamp, courtesy of Dietz and Beveridge.

Battle Mountain, however, could not stand prosperity and started taking penalties at a ridiculous pace, including allowing Columbine to erase a 4-1 gap and its own five-on-three score, allowing the Rebels to tie it at 4.

Battle Mountain (9-7-2) entered Wednesday’s game ranked No. 14 in the all-powerful ratings-percentage index. Twenty-four teams make the playoffs, with the top eight getting a bye through the first round.

If the Huskies can stay in the top 16 — and they host Crested Butte on Friday night to close the regular season — they would be home next week for the playoffs.

Rifle nips Eagle Valley basketball in final minute

GYPSUM — That was a heartbreaker on Senior Night.

Eagle Valley boys basketball hit a whopping 15 3-pointers on Tuesday night but dropped a 68-66 thriller to Rifle in Gypsum.

What will sting is the Bears Trey Lujan marauding to the basket for a 3-point play that gave the visiting Bears a 67-66 lead with 16 seconds left. Devils coach Justin Brandt clearly felt that Lujan should have been whistled for the charge.

In fairness, Eagle Valley likely got a break of its own with 57 seconds left. The Devils and Bears were scrambling for possession on the other end of the court and somehow Brandt got a timeout. Whether the Devils had the ball or not, well, they got the timeout.

Rifle contested that call too loudly, earning a technical and sending Keegan Garvey to the line. Garvey sank both shots for a 66-64 lead. The Devils tried to use the ensuing possession of the technical to work the clock, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

However one interprets the final minute of the game, it made for a thrilling Senior Night as Eagle Valley honored Matthew Turner, Keegan Garvey, Justin Hoppin, Tristen Clark, and Nando Vidaurri.

“It’s hard for the seniors,” Brandt said. “They have put in a lot of hard work and not had the success they have dreamed of. I guess the good and the bad of it is that we don’t have a lot of time to dwell on it.”

It also may serve as a warning shot of sorts. There’s no better way to go into the Battle Mountain game in Edwards on Thursday than by sinking 15 3s. That probably aroused some memories of 2018 when the Devils went crazy from the 3-point line in a 110-102 win in Edwards. (Seriously, there are still Huskies fans in the fetal position after that game.)

Eagle Valley’s explosion from downtown was not designed.

“A lot of that was what Rifle gives up,” Brandt said. “They were just giving it to us and you’ve got to take it.”

Garvey led the way with 19, while Bryan Martinez had 15 and Branden Vigil 12.

Devils make it two in a row

OK, so why does the season have to end when Eagle Valley girls’ basketball is just getting in a groove?

The Devils won their second in a row  — they knocked off Summit on Saturday in an overtime thriller — by dusting Rifle, 44-23, on Tuesday for Senior Night.

They’ve got big mo going into Thursday night’s intergalactic showdown at Battle Mountain. Who says the season has to stop just because the schedule says so?

“It’s bittersweet,” Devils senior Cody Eaton said. “We’ve found our culture and it’s fun again. It’s a bummer that it’s over so soon, but it’s great to end it well.”

Kaitlin Medina poured in 19 points and A.J. Martinez finished with 10. Meanwhile, Eagle Valley’s defense held the visiting Bears to just five points during the second half.

Yes, Eagle Valley has struggled this year with a 4-14 record, but it is about the journey — as trite as that may sound. While Saturday’s win over Summit was the runaway winner for best moment on the court during the postgame ceremonies, a lot of the experience is off the hardwood.

“The fun moments, a lot of them are behind closed doors,” Eaton said. “It’s the moments when we’re all laughing together, cheering together and just being together.”

The team’s seniors include Eaton, Joslin Blair, Martinez, Medina, Arianna Pena, and McKayla Williams.

Vail Christian beats North Park; eyes Slope crown

Merry Christmas, Vail Christian.

We don’t know if this is a late holiday greeting or if this is 10 months early, but either way, it’s good news.

Yes, the Vail Christian boys basketball team performed the obligatory thrashing of North Park, 81-43, in scenic Walden on Saturday. The Saints also got some good news via the Internet.

League-leading DeBeque lost to Plateau Valley last weekend and on Friday night fell to West Grand.

All of a sudden, the Saints are within one game of winning their first 2A Western Slope title.

It doesn’t affect the postseason — DeBeque still goes down to Class 1A for the playoffs, while the Saints have already locked up the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A District 5 Tournament. 

But Vail Christian has never won the whole league before — we’ll explain later — and it really serves as motivation going into the regular-season finale Friday night at Soroco.

“It’s their Senior Night. We’re playing for a league title,” Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns said. “It should be a healthy environment.”

Well put, Coach.

At 15-2 overall, the Saints don’t need any slip-ups as they try to improve their ratings-percentage index — holding at No. 8 as of this writing — as the postseason approaches.

Against North Park, the Saints just pummeled the Panthers as a good team should. Vail Christian scored 75 points in three quarters and called it a day.

Jamison Lee and Alec Moritz combined for 40. Everybody and their brother, which really does apply to this team, played and scored, making for as fun of a day as one can have near the Wyoming border.

In ye olden days — 2011 and 2012 — Vail Christian won the Gore League when the current 2A Slope was split in two — the other side was the Mesa. The Gore had Vail Christian, Vail Mountain, Hayden, North Park, Soroco and West Grand.

While it was a nice accomplishment at the time, the beef of the Slope — Meeker, Paonia, Hotchkiss, Rangely, DeBeque and  Plateau Valley — was in the Mesa.

In the girls game, Vail Christian took down North Park, 57-51, behind 25 points from Grace McCurdy.

Eagle Valley wrestling sending eight to state

Eagle Valley wrestling enjoyed its visit to near-Kansas this weekend.

The bus should be back in the next few days from Lamar, site of this weekend’s Class 3A Region 4 Tournament. And then the Devils will just turn said bus around and head to Denver. Eagle Valley wrestling’s OK with this.

When you finish second at regionals and are sending eight to the Pepsi Center for the state tournament, you’re good with frequent bus miles.

“I’m pretty pumped up,” Devils coach Melvin Valdez said from somewhere on the Eastern Plains. “The guys worked really hard and are peaking at the right time. I’m ready to get these guys some hardware.”

Matthew Medina (106 pounds) and Lucas Comroe (138) are regional champions. Both are stories of redemption.

Medina entered last year’s regional meet at the No. 5-ranked wrestler at 106 in the state. He lost in wrestle-backs, falling short of the state tourney. Now a senior, the 106-pounder left no doubt.

Comroe was second at 132 last year. One year and six pounds later, the senior has added regional champ to his accomplished resume.

Comroe and Cody Ponce (220) will return to the Pepsi Center where both finished second last winter. We’re just assuming that those finishes have been driving them for the last 51 weeks.

Ponce was second at 220, while Logan Stephens (113), Manuel Heredia (132) Brian Garcia (190) punched their tickets with third-place finishes.

And, if you’ve ever been to a regional tournament, preferably one that isn’t on the Kansas border, you know the real drama is in the wrestle-backs.

At 152, Jason Morrison had a nail-biter against Florence’s Jacob Kennedy. With fourth place and the last ticket to state, Morrison edged Kennedy, 6-5.

“Jason just had no quit,” Valdez said. “And that’s what won him the match.”

The last match of the regional was for fourth place at 120. Devils senior Josh Boeke trailed Sierra’s Darryl Mills by as many as three points during his match. Boeke rallied for a 9-8 win.

“That shook the whole gym,” Valdez said.

Huskies send three

Instant replay: Battle Mountain’s Jeremiah Vasquez (heavyweight), Victor Ortiz (152 pounds) and Anthony Sanchez (160) are making repeat trips to the Pepsi Center after this weekend’s CHSAA 4A Region 2 Tournament in Broomfield.

“We’re pretty happy the way the boys performed,” Battle Mountain coach Angelo Vasquez said. “We knew we had a tough region with tough teams. We have three days of cardio and technical wrestling, and we’re off to Denver.”

The younger Vasquez finished second, suffering a late pin by Broomfield’s Tyler Carpenter. Don’t be surprised if those two meet again at the Pepsi Center. Anthony Sanchez took second at 160 pounds, and Victor Ortiz was third at 152.

While there are only three in black and gold going, one cannot underestimate the experience the three hold, having already been to state.

As much a one can do the whole Gene Hackman thing of measuring the court with a tape measure as done in “Hoosiers,” there is no replicating the experience of wrestling on the big stage.