It’s six times the playoff fun for local teams
February 21, 2017
And, by playoff time, that would be six games in two different sports all happening within two hours today. This does not even include Eagle Valley girls basketball playing Sierra on Tuesday night in the first round of the state playoffs or the little state-ski meet up in Steamboat Springs, where local teams may have a bit of a say.
The rundown on Wednesday's action:
Battle Mountain (14) vs. Aspen (19), state playoffs, Eagle Pool & Ice Rink, 6 p.m.
Not exactly a matchup of strangers. By rating-percentage index, this should be the Huskies hosting Cheyenne Mountain, but CHSAA may tweak the seeding for geographical considerations. Therefore, it's Skiers at Huskies, while Cheyenne Mountain is at Pueblo County.
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The Huskies blanked Aspen, 4-0, back in December in Eagle and the two teams skated to a 1-1 tie last month in Pitkin County.
Battle Mountain (12-3-3) has lost two out of its last three to end the season. In fairness, those two were to Peak Conference champion, Resurrection Christian, which enters the playoffs as the No. 4 seed.
This is not only a playoff game, but a rivalry, one which stretches further than in most high school sports. Before they suited up as Huskies and Skiers, the players for both teams were Mountaineers and Leafs. They have been playing each other since they were Mites and Squirts. There should be no surprises.
Big question: How do the Huskies come out? They were singular in purpose in December against Aspen, but needed a Hunter Fox goal in the rematch to salvage a tie.
Class 4A basketball
Eagle Valley boys (27) vs. Wheat Ridge (38), state playoffs, 5:30 p.m.
As expected, the Devils are home for the first round of the playoffs. Though it's been a bumpy ride, 14-9 in this season, as compared to 6-14 last winter, would be some serious growth.
Despite finishing third in the 4A Slope, Eagle Valley remains the top-ranked team in RPI, and, therefore, postseason seeding. While this is for another article, why do leagues exist if RPI disregards the standings?
For those counting at home, Steamboat Springs (31), Glenwood Springs (39), Battle Mountain (41) and Rifle (46) also represent the league.
Big question: Where is Eagle Valley mentally? The Devils lost four of five to end the regular season as Jimmy Murphy went down. This is a talented team with a ton of seniors, and it's time for a show.
Battle Mountain boys (41) at Skyview (24), state playoffs, 7 p.m.
Trivia time: Which was the only Western Slope basketball team — boys or girls — with an opponents' winning percentage, 50 percent of RPI, above .500? The placement of the question in this article should make answer obvious.
Skyview probably ain't too happy with the RPI. The Wolverines ran the table in the Northern League and got No. 24 for their troubles. (And if Huskies alum Jack Skidmore is reading this, then you may not sing, "Hail to the Victors.")
Big question: Was Eagle Valley the end of the season? Granted, beating your archrival to spoil its chances of winning the league is a highlight of any team's season. But is that all for the 2016-17 edition of Battle Mountain basketball? The Huskies can play with and beat good teams. Now would be a time to prove it.
Class 2A, District 5 quarterfinals
Vail Mountain School (3) vs. Plateau Valley (6), 5:30 p.m.
When last we saw the Gore Rangers, they were beating Plateau Valley, 66-54, on Senior Night, and now the Cowboys make their return to East Vail.
Griffin O'Connell had 30 points and 18 rebounds that night.
Big question: Can VMS shake off the rust? The Gore Rangers last played these Cowboys 18 days ago. It's hard to come off a long break — simply ask Eagle Valley's teams.
Talk to anyone affiliated with Gore Rangers basketball and the team's quest to be validated as a serious program is apparent. The district playoffs are when you start to write that story.
Vail Christian girls (5) at Rangely (4), 5 p.m.
Welcome to the District 5 Blues. The tournament has three berths for regionals and six good teams. Paonia and Soroco are a combined 35-2 this year. Meeker is the No. 3 seed and gets No. 6 West Grand (14-5) as its reward, and the 4-5 matchup in this tourney is Rangely and Vail Christian.
The Saints have shown they can play with all of the above this season.
Big question: Aside from surviving the trip — always key when traveling out near Utah — can the Saints limit the damage from downtown? The Panthers were 10-for-20 from 3-point land during the regular-season meeting, a 66-50 Rangely win.
Vail Christian boys (5) at Hotchkiss (4), 5:30 p.m.
Yes, this is deja vu. Hotchkiss beat Vail Christian, 72-71, on Friday night and they're doing it all again tonight.
Despite getting mauled on the boards — which is going to happen a lot of the time with the Saints at their current size — Vail Christian should know it can play with the Bulldogs.
Big question: How much have the Saints grown up? Yes, they're ridiculously young. (We are allowed to say that this year.) Yes, they have grown up quite a bit merely from December, which was an 0-5 experience. Is winning in the postseason on the road the next step?
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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