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Battle Mountain basketball starts 2020 with win

Welcome back, everyone

Battle Mountain's Owen Ruotolo had a big game on both sides of the ball as the Huskies won at Grand Junction Central last weekend.
Mort Mulliken | Daily file photo

As a basketball fan, we’re still in the “Battle Mountain boys basketball looks like it might be good, but one doesn’t commit fully for fear of heartbreak,” stage.

But …

The Huskies came off the holiday break — the usual moment for a splat — and got through the traditional holiday rust with a 17-4 run in the fourth quarter for a 42-39 win at Grand Junction Central last weekend.

“One of the things we have been talking about and emphasizing last week is defense,” Huskies coach Phil Tronsrue said. “If we’re going to win ball games, we have to make key stops and take control. That’s what we did.”

And a 17-4 run during the final eight minutes in a 5A team’s gym is impressive for a 4A team that was 8-15 last year. Throw in that before the break, Battle Mountain also won at Evergreen and there is a bit of a buzz in Edwards.

There’s a reason every basketball coach — boys or girls; from 1A to 5A — preaches defense. Turnovers create points in transition and that’s all good. While, of course, defense is played by all five players on the court, Tronsrue gave a tip of the cap to Harrison Rubis and Owen Ruotolo for their efforts in this cause.

As has been the case in the early going, Battle Mountain had nice balance on the score sheet with Liam McKenny leading the way with 16 points, Ruotolo with 11 and Hakeem Dath chipping in nine.

The Huskies have no time to rest on their laurels as they face a difficult weekend — home for Palisade on Friday and at Mead on Saturday.

“Friday night’s our league opener. We’re home, and a lot of people haven’t seen us,” Tronsrue said. “Then we turn around and play one of the top 4A teams in the state. If we’re going to compete in the state playoffs, we have to prove ourselves.”

RPI watch

Mead, the team Battle Mountain plays on Saturday, is No. 5 in the rating-percentage index.

We only bring this up because the No. 6 team in the state, according to RPI, is Eagle Valley.

We issue our standard seasonal warning that, by and large, RPI doesn’t mean a hoot at this stage. For the record, the Devils are No. 6 and the Huskies No. 28, as of this writing.

Eagle Valley’s probably a bit too highly ranked, while Battle Mountain’s likely better than 28. The two teams will settle it Feb. 4 and 20, in Gypsum and Edwards, respectively.

In the meantime, you can catch the Devils tonight against Montrose at 5:30 and 7 in Gypsum.

And, no, we wouldn’t forget about Vail Christian basketball. The Saints are home tonight against Coal Ridge at 6 and 7:30.

And perhaps we buried the lead here, but the Saints boys (all of 4-0) are No. 1 in the 2A RPI. (This ranking, as always, is sponsored by Vail Christian head of school Steve O’Neil.)

Eagle Valley Invitational on Saturday

If all of the above is too much basketball for you, we’ve got wrestling with the Eagle Valley Invite on Saturday. Cody Ponce (220 pounds) and Lucas Comroe lead the way for the host Devils.

You’ll remember from previous episodes of “Eagle Valley wrestling,” that those two were second at state last year and have unfinished business.

The Devils won the Buena Vista Duals for the second year running and were second at a similar event in Grand Junction. Eagle Valley was seventh at the Warrior Classic before the break.

Speaking of the Warrior, hats off to Ponce and Battle Mountain’s Jeremiah Vasquez (heavyweight) for bringing home titles from that tournament. This should be a fun sprint to the Pepsi Center.

Not forgetting …

• Battle Mountain hockey has a home weekend of nonconference play. The 3-3 Huskies host Dakota Ridge and Pine Creek Friday and Saturday at Dobson.

• High school skiing begins this weekend with Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley at Beaver Creek, while Vail Mountain is at Winter Park. The Nordic teams start the season in Carbondale.

See you all at everything.


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