Battle Mountain nips Eagle Valley, 67-66 |

Battle Mountain nips Eagle Valley, 67-66

Huskies hang on

Battle Mountain's Liam McKenny goes for a layup against Eagle Valley Thursday in Edwards. The Huskies won, 67-66, as McKenny had 34 points.
Chris Dillmann |

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.”

Support Local Journalism

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.

Support Local Journalism