Battle Mountain basketball drops December finale to Grand Junction
EDWARDS — Class 5A Grand Junction earned its first win of the season in dramatic fashion on Tuesday at the expense of Battle Mountain, 60-59, in Edwards.
The Huskies’ Uziel Olivas had the ball in the waning seconds, but turned it over with the Tigers’ Max DeGeorge jumping on the ball to secure the win for Grand Junction (1-9).
While everyone always breaks down the final play, there were many turning points that could have altered the final sequence. What’s more, Olivas led Battle Mountain (3-6) with 16 points.
In truth, the Huskies lost this game earlier in the evening with turnovers and sketchy free-throw shooting. On the latter, even with Owen Ruotolo’s 5-for-6 night from the charity stripe, the Huskies were 10-for-20 from the line on the evening, a major factor in a one-point game.
“Too many turnovers and too many missed free throws,” Huskies coach Philip Tronsrue said. “We talked about those two (factors) being enough to make it the situation it was. If we take care of the ball better late — we had a few I-don’t-know-what-we-were-doing passes and we missed 10 free throws — it doesn’t come down to a one-point game with 17 seconds to go.”
Down 46-39 late in the third quarter, Battle Mountain’s Fernando Reyes hit from beyond the arc and the Huskies’ possession at the buzzer ended with a Liam Hangan tip-in.
Ruotolo and Grand Junction’s Beau Thornton traded 3s to start the fourth quarter, which saw the Huskies go down 56-48. But Battle Mountain made it rain with 3-pointers by Liam McKenny, Olivas and Ruotolo for a 57-56 lead with 2:04 to go.
“We also talked about that we were battling with them,” Tronsrue said. “A couple of times, they made a little push and made it seven or eight points, but we responded. Last weekend, we didn’t respond last weekend (against Mead and Evergreen). That was good. That was a positive.”
The Tigers’ Andy Smith gave his team the lead with a jumper. With 54 seconds left in regulation, the Huskies’ Reyes coolly sank two free throws, but Smith replied with a layup for the game winner with 30 seconds left.
Battle Mountain is off until Jan. 8, when it has its 4A Slope opener at Eagle Valley, which will likely be the Biggest Game in the History of Basketball … until the next one.
Huskies girls fall
Battle Mountain girls basketball had a rough night on Tuesday with a 54-18 loss to Grand Junction.
Gabby Caballero led the Huskies (2-6) with five points. The Huskies girls wrap 2018 against Basalt on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Edwards.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.