A funny thing happened on the way to the state championship. While many expected the Battle Mountain Huskies to return to hockey’s championship game for a second year, few gave Kent Denver a shot in the semifinal contest between the Huskies and Sun Devils.In the end, however, Kent Denver’s physical play beat the speed of Battle Mountain.On Friday, Feb. 28, the Huskies fell to the Sun Devils 4-1 in a semifinal game at the Air Force Academy. The game was closer than the score might indicate as Battle Mountain trailed 2-1 with less than two minutes to go in the game. Even more frustrating for the Huskies was how they came up empty on three breakaway opportunities during the game.”Kent wasn’t the team we beat earlier this year,” said Husky coach Jade Kersey. “They were fast, very physical, and very big. We didn’t have an answer to their physical play.”The Huskies relied on their skill and speed throughout the season. In the few times they struggled, the teams Battle Mountain had the most problems with were the bigger and stronger ones.”Everybody knew Kent was strong and no one was looking ahead,” Kersey said. “We struggled with physical teams all year, but were usually able to persevere.”High expectations will greet Battle Mountain again next season. The Huskies will be coming off a 10-0 record in the Metro Conference and will lose only two members of the current team. Steven Reid and Paul Agneberg will graduate this year. Everybody else will be back.In basketball, the news is OK for Eagle Valley and bad for Battle Mountain. After a surprise win against Hotchkiss that guaranteed the Eagle Valley boys a spot in the state playoffs, the Devils had a chance to improve their seeding with a strong showing at the district playoffs. It didn’t happen. The Devils dropped two games over the weekend of Feb. 28, including a 61-48 loss to Cedaredge and a 64-42 loss to Roaring Fork.”We played really well and had lots of good opportunities against Cedaredge,” said head coach Phil Cain. “Against Roaring Fork, we didn’t show up mentally and I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was a hangover effect or what happened. We just didn’t show up.”The two losses dropped the Devils to a 31st seed in the 32-team bracket. That means a game against second-seeded and undefeated Platte Valley on Friday, March 7. Tipoff will be at 8 p.m. at Kersey High School.Eagle Valley has been up and down all year. Cain knows that won’t cut it against Platte Valley.”We’re definitely inconsistent and that points to our lack of maturity and only having two seniors,” Cain said. “But, the pressure’s not on us. We’ll be happy if we play as hard as we can.”Watch for strong guard play, a trapping defense, and a 6-10 center from Platte Valley. The Devils will counter with the senior leadership of Craig Jagger and Justin Wood.The Eagle Valley girls also face a tough test in the state playoffs. The Devils square off against highly rated Estes Park this weekend.Meanwhile, the Battle Mountain boys and girls lost their district playoff games. Both teams lost games to the top-seeded teams in their respective league playoffs.q– John Knauf
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