Baca back: Devils cruise past Delta |

Baca back: Devils cruise past Delta

GYPSUM – Call it a New Years gift or a late Christmas present, but Eagle Valley boys basketball got it on Tuesday.

Welcome back, Juan Baca.

“Oh, it is fantastic to have our point guard back,” said Devils shooting guard Tim Wells, who doubtless enjoyed Baca’s return with 17 points.

Eagle Valley celebrated with a 59-42 league-opening win against Delta Tuesday night.

“Juan had a partially-torn MCL,” Devils coach Brent McConaghy said. “He rehabbed hard enough to get back a week-and-a-half early. He’s playing at about 80 percent.”

And 80 percent of Baca is better than most. He sparked the Devils’ offense to an 18-1 first-quarter run, while the defense tamped down the visiting Panthers.

“It definitely helped that we were so set defensively,” Wells said. “They have a really good point guard. Sam (Lounsberry) and Reece (Ellsworth) also shut them down because he’s a real big player.”

Delta’s Jake Ames ended up with 16, but most of that was late after the contest was decided. The Panthers also didn’t get their fastbreak game going, so, all in all, call it a very good night for the Devils (6-2).

And there were multiple heroes, which could bode well as Eagle Valley’s season progresses. Jeremy Sabo picked up two fouls in the first 2:07 of the game and essentially had to sit out the first half. That proved to be nothing more than a small speed bump as five different Devils scored in the first eight minutes.

“Sabo’s a top 10 player in the Western Slope and the fact that he basically fouled out for the whole first half and we still picked up the slack is fantastic,” McConaghy said. “When we need points inside, Cooper (Senn)’s the man. … Wells is our driver, he’s going to do everything. Sam Lounsberry is picking up the slack.”

While Wells led the way, Senn had 10 points and Lounsberry eight. Ayren Hart, Sabo and James Pritchard all had six, adding nice balance.

And if you’re wondering about the towel exchange as the Devils come on and off the court, the team is using them to smooth out early-season substitution errors, and it has an added health bonus.

“You do not come off the court without a towel,” McConaghy said. “That way we avoid me having an aneurysm.”

Delta girls too much for Devils

The Delta girls basketball team is one of Slope’s “Big Three” and it showed why Tuesday night.

The Panthers, who ended up in a tie for the league crown with Moffat County and Glenwood Springs last year, zipped past the Devils, 71-29, in the Slope opener for both squads.

Delta played its guards high out of its 2-3 zone, a tactic which prevented Eagle Valley from getting much momentum offensively, much less many good looks at the basket.

The visitors led 19-2 after one quarter and 34-6 at the half.

It’s one game, though.

“We know that Delta won a share of the league title last year and they returned the bulk of their team,” Devils coach Sam Bartlett said. “We just have to understand that being filled with underclassmen isn’t an excuse. We have to understand the intensity it takes in practice to get after each other, so it translates to the way we play in games.”

Toward that end, both Eagle Valley teams are at Palisade Friday with 6 and 7:30 p.m. tipoffs. Meanwhile, Delta heads home to face Battle Mountain on Thursday.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

Devils basketball

Delta 1 13 14 14 – 42

Devils 18 9 11 21 – 59

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