Battle Mountain basketball sweeps Devils
Big nights for Ruotolo, McKenny
GYPSUM — The quickest way to become a legend is to go big in anything Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley.
Take Sam Bartlett, known to most students in Gypsum as an English teacher. However, in 2002, ahem, Bartlett went off for 14 points and 20 rebounds for the Devils in a stunning upset of Battle Mountain.
And with every telling, his stat line has rightly grown. He’s probably up to about 70 points and 110 rebounds in that win.
Tuesday night in Gypsum, the Huskies got their dynamic duo going to beat Eagle Valley, 79-62, in Gypsum.
Owen Ruotolo scored 18 in the first half alone on his way to 24 points, and let’s go inside the numbers. No. 22 was 10-for-10 from the floor (two 3s and eight regular field goals) and 2-for-3 from the line.
“Going to Battle Mountain, you live to play in this game,” Ruotolo said. “It is so much fun to play in it. and it’s even better when you get the win.”
As for missing the free throw? Yes, Ruotolo has sprints in practice today.
“You would think for a guy who has a 4.7 (grade-point average), you’d think he’d know to make the free throw,” Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue joked. (And, we’re kidding. No sprints.)
Meanwhile, Liam McKenny roared in the paint for 32 points, 25 of which came in the second half to quiet half of a raucous gymnasium.
At their 20th reunion, the two will recall combining for about 90-something points during the state championship game. And Ruotolo won’t have missed that free throw.
And that makes three wins in their last four, and things are looking decidedly upward for the Huskies (9-7 overall and 3-3 in the Slope). Yes, it’s nice to have two guys go crazy, but a closer look shows that Luis Trillo, Daniel Redinger and Jack Sullivan also made significant offensive contributions. And Harrison Rubis came off the bench to help quell Eagle Valley’s Carlos Sanchez.
The contributions up and down the bench made Tronsrue a happy guy after Tuesday’s game.
“We need more than two guys,” Dr. Phil said. “You have four guys every night scoring, we become a tough club to play. I also thought we played good defense. We kept them off-balance for most of the night.”
Tuesday was a tough night for Eagle Valley (6-10, 1-7). It was the Devils’ third game in four nights after beating Central on Saturday and Grand Junction on Monday.
“I think it showed that it was our third game in four nights,” Devils coach Justin Brandt said. “We were rotating slowly and not denying very well. We just ran out of gas.”
Huskies win rebounds, game
At least for one evening, Battle Mountain girls basketball found what it was missing from last season.
The Huskies (5-9, 2-3) found points in the paint on Tuesday night in a 50-27 win against archrival Eagle Valley.
We interrupt the broader theme of the article for the appropriate whooping associated with beating your archrival.
“It’s amazing,” Gianna Carroll said. “We all came together to dominate our rivals. It feels amazing.”
Back to our story, after winning the 4A Slope — or at any classification — last year for the first time since 1993, the Huskies have struggled, so this requires an exciting game of control and variable.
With guards Gaby Caballero and Alden Pennington still able to put up 3s — and apparently Cayla Woodworth was joining the act on Tuesday — the team still needs someone to rebound, as even the best 3-point shooters don’t make them all.
This is where Battle Mountain misses graduates Claire Krueger, Eleanor Sheahan and, Audrey Teague, who, in a related development, combined to average 18.6 rebounds per game last year.
In the first quarter alone, the Huskies took a 15-4 lead over the Devils. Ten of those points came from putbacks or post-up shots (Woodworth and Carroll).
“We focused on who wanted it more, both with rebounding and going after loose balls,” Huskies coach Kindi Backstrom said. “I’m proud of the girls for stepping up and doing what’s asked.”
Come the second quarter pounding the paint translated into points on the free-throw line. Carroll and Augustine Hancock reeled off five in a row from the stripe to extend Battle Mountain’s lead to 25-16.
And in the second half, Caballero heated up and put it away with two 3s.
“It’s having trust,” Carroll said. “We trust you to make the shots. You trust us to get the rebound.”
Just as a reminder, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley will meet again on Feb. 20 in Edwards. We will just assume craziness will ensue during the boys’ game there. The last two years, Eagle Valley has won there 110-102 in regulation and 82-78 in triple overtime, naturally.
Battle Mountain’s teams head to Summit tonight. These games are a reschedule of earlier snowed-out contests. Eagle Valley’s teams are at Palisade on Friday night.