Vail Valley preps: Huskies girls win league title
First Slope crown since 1993
EDWARDS — No, dinosaurs did not roam the earth the last time Battle Mountain girls basketball won the Western Slope, but Bill Clinton had just become the president and cell phones were still a bulky novel concept.
And, to be honest, the girls, since 1993, haven’t been close to a league title — be it Class 3A or 4A — being on the wrong end of ugly scores throughout the last 26 years.
Just to drop a few names from the 1993 squad — Leigh Zastrow, Holly Stanish and Holly Post were on that team.
There was quite a party after Battle Mountain beat Rifle, 45-28, on Friday night in Edwards to ice the Slope.
“I got set up and drenched,” a very wet, yet happy, Huskies coach Kindi Backstrom said. “(Assistant) coach (Sarah) Brubeck set me up. She had me go in(to the locker room) first and the girls were waiting.
“I never thought, my freshman year, that we would be league champs,” senior Claire Krueger said.
Rifle tried the bore-them-to-death strategy against the 2019 Huskies, playing deliberately on offense, looking for the occasional 3, and/or pass to senior Masi Smith in the paint. That forced Battle Mountain (14-8 overall and 10-2 in the 4A Slope) to play aggressive defense and hammer the boards. In retrospect, that might be good practice for the state playoffs, which start next week.
Eleanor Sheahan kick-started the offense with a 3-point play during the first quarter. Super-sophomores Gabby Caballero (layup) and Alden Pennington (3-pointer) gave the Huskies an 8-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Krueger started the second quarter with what should have been a Skittles commercial, just a rainbow of a 3, and the Huskies were on their way. Maggie Skidmore contributed a bucket and Battle Mountain led 19-10 at the break.
The Huskies pulled away in the third quarter, going on an 11-0 run with Krueger going hard to the goal, a Sheahan layup and Pennington and Audrey Teague 3s.
The exclamation point was Wilder Isom getting significant playing time, and hitting a free throw with 58 seconds left in the game, followed by Krueger getting called off the court.
So, when Huskies Athletic Director Gentry Nixon is not singing the national anthem — and doing it very well, as she did on Friday night — or doing a myriad of other duties, she can put the “GIRLS BASKETBALL 2019” on the gold banners on the south side of the gym.
“I think the main thing is that we came together as a team,” Krueger said. “We’re just not five (players) any more. We can can put in anyone else and still kill it. And we knew that coach would help us.”
Battle Mountain was No. 24 in the rating-percentage index, entering Friday night. In theory, the Huskies should be at home on Tuesday for a first-round playoff game against an opponent to be determined. The CHSAA bracket will come out over the weekend.
Oh, by the way, it was also Senior Night for the Huskies. The Battle Mountain basketball senior class — both girls and boys — includes Teague, Melisa Krueger, Claire Krueger, Sheahan, Isom, Uziel Olivas, Baker Gentry, Victor Holguin, Gustavo Carrillo, Liam Hannagan, Fernando Reyes and Jesus Caballero.