Huskies hoops sweeps Round 1 of rivalry
GYPSUM — So, you haven’t played a game in nearly three weeks.
The rust factor aside, it’s your league opener.
And, oh, by the way, your first league game is … at Eagle Valley?
“Thanks a lot, schedule maker,” Battle Mountain said collectively.
The Huskies boys’ basketball team can laugh about the predicament now after winning that opener over Eagle Valley, 45-39, on Tuesday night in Gypsum.
“Eagle Valley’s a tough place to play,” Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue said. “But in our league it’s tough to play on the road, and you’ve got to get road wins. … While the execution wasn’t great, and we expected that after a three-week break, we adjusted and I thought the guys did a nice job.”
After 14 listless minutes, Battle Mountain (4-6 overall and 1-0 in the 4A Slope) went on 16-2 run from late in the second period to the third. Uziel Olivas began the second half with a 3, and Liam McKenny followed with a layup as the Huskies eventually built a 25-16 lead.
The Devils’ Jacob Medina and Jesse Moser broke the jag with two 3-pointers, but the Huskies led 31-24 after three.
Baker Gentry began the fourth with a 3 for the Huskies. Moser answered with his own trey, but Gentry had the last laugh. The Battle Mountain senior had what would be the game-clincher with the bucket-and-one for a 37-29 lead with 5:53 left in the game.
The important thing for both teams, with as much emphasis as can be placed on the league opener, especially when it is the rivalry, is that it’s just one game.
“Our defensive game plan went right, as expected,” Devils coach Justin Brandt said. “Offensively, we didn’t create as much as we’re capable of. We have a high-scoring powerful offense and I didn’t have my guys in the mindset to execute it.”
The first half was as one expects, sloppy. Rivalry games amp up the emotions, and both teams struggled to hit the ocean from a beach chair. The Devils built a 6-0 lead, capped by a Keegan Garvey basket.
Eagle Valley (4-4, 0-1) led by as much as 12-3 during the second before the Huskies’ McKenny settled in and started producing points in the paint. Battle Mountain’s Olivas evened it at 14 with a 3-pointer with 1:14 left before the break.
Lady Huskies get the win
The star of the girls’ Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley game, a 36-29 Huskies’ win, had nothing to do with points, rebounds or assists.
On Breast Cancer Awareness Night, Eagle Valley senior Mady Calis took to the microphone before the game.
“May name is Mady Calis and I have been affected by breast cancer,” she said. “I have not had it personally, but my mom, Magon Calis, is a survivor. Throughout her journey, I recognized how hard people with breast cancer have to fight. And I aspire to have that kind of strength my mom and all the other survivors have.”
As for the game, the Huskies (4-6, 1-0) took a 15-5 lead after the first quarter, and held off the Devils (2-6, 0-1).
Eagle Valley rallied during the third quarter, bookended by Kaitlin Medina buckets. In between, Calis hit from downtown. She followed with a steal and a layup. The 9-2 run pulled the Devils to within 24-22.
The Devils’ Liz Mendoza tied it up at 24 to start the fourth quarter. Battle Mountain went 13 minutes, 41 seconds of playing time from the middle of the second quarter to the fourth with just one field goal. So all Huskies’ fans were delighted with a free throw from Gabby Caballero and a Claire Krueger layup with 4:59 left for a Huskies’ 27-24 lead.
And there was much more jubilation when Cayla Woodworth ripped off four straight, including a 3-point play. When Krueger later dropped another shot, the Huskies had a 33-26 lead with 2:42 remaining.
“I was so proud of our girls,” Huskies coach Kindi Backstrom said. “We talked about it before the game that we had to stay cool and keep our heads in a rivalry game. We hung through it.”
The unsung hero for Battle Mountain was Eleanor Sheahan, who played smartly with four fouls on her for pretty much the entire second half.
The Huskies return home for nonconference games against Buena Vista today, followed by a conference visit from Summit County. Eagle Valley’s squads are at Palisade on Thursday.
Paul Cuthbertson, a lifelong local of Eagle and Summit counties, died while skiing up to the Polar Star Inn to meet some friends for a celebration of his 21st birthday on Friday night.