Battle Mountain beats rival Eagle Valley, 66-61, in Eagle-Vail |

Battle Mountain beats rival Eagle Valley, 66-61, in Eagle-Vail

Ian Smith
Vail, CO Colorado
SPT BMBB Edward Banegas DT 1-27-09

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” It’s not exactly North Carolina versus Duke, but Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain put on a show in Eagle-Vail, Colorado.

A spirited crowd, lead changes in the fourth quarter, and clutch plays by both sides highlighted the back-and-forth rivalry game. In the end, the Huskies made the plays that counted the most to beat the Devils, 66-61, in Eagle-Vail on Tuesday night.

“I couldn’t even sleep last night I wanted to win so bad,” Battle Mountain’s Mitch Cooley said.

It looked like Cooley’s worst nightmare would come true in the first quarter. Eagle Valley’s Cesar Castillo scored three-straight baskets to give the Devils a 7-3 lead. A few possessions later Castillo dropped a rainbow 3-pointer for a 12-3 advantage.

Eagle Valley finished the quarter with a 20-7 lead on the Huskies, but it didn’t take long for Battle Mountain to fight back.

“If it were back in December, our guys would have quit,” Battle Mountain coach Phil Tronsrue said. “The past few weeks, our attitude has really changed. We’ve really stepped up. I told the guys, ‘So what? It’s 13 points. Let’s just chip away.”‘

Cooley ignited an 8-0 run with a score inside. Later, he scored on a breakaway layup to cut the deficit to 20-15. The senior led all scorers with a game-high 21 points.

“One of the things we really tried to do was have an inside presence,” Tronsrue said. “We wanted to pound the ball inside and get it to Mitch.”

Shawn Martinez sent the game into halftime 31-29 with a basket right before the buzzer.

A key to the Huskies’ comeback was their ability to shut down Castillo after he scored 12 points in the first quarter.

“We wanted to turn the pressure up,” Tronsrue said. “We started in man-to-man, but I told Shawn Martinez we wanted to face guard (Castillo). We wanted to make sure he couldn’t get that three ball up.”

The second half started much like the first with Eagle Valley taking command. The Devils built their lead back up to 10 at 41-31 on Bryce Zehring’s baseline jumper. Zehring played well off the bench, scoring 10 points and grabbing more than a handful of offensive rebounds.

“Bryce Zehring’s second half was giant,” Eagle Valley coach Pat Gabriel said. “He really played us into the game.”

Battle Mountain responded with another 8-0 run. Cooley’s driving layup made the score 43-41.

In the fourth quarter, Edward Banegas cashed in on an offensive rebound with a three-point play to knot the score at 46. The Huskies took their first lead since the opening minute of the game on Martinez’s two free throws with 6:55 left in the fourth quarter.

The play was crucial not only because Battle Mountain went back on top, but also because Castillo fouled out on the play. Foul trouble hurt the Devils throughout the game. Castillo, Zak Thrall, Zak Ramsay and Brett Wilson ” three of whom started on Tuesday ” fouled out.

Still, Eagle Valley found a way to make a game of it down the stretch. Zehring answered a Miguel Copas basket with two of his own to pull the Devils within one at 58-57.

Copas banked in a huge bucket to push Battle Mountain ahead 62-59. The Huskies iced the game at the free-throw line with some clutch shooting.

“(Our) kids gave everything they had,” Gabriel said. “We had four kids on the bench with five fouls. That means they came in and worked really hard against pretty good athletes.”

Eagle Valley (2-14, 0-7) hosts Steamboat Springs on Friday. Battle Mountain is at Moffat County.

Red-hot Devils down Huskies

Eagle Valley stepped off the bus with a hot-shooting hand on Tuesday.

A sizzling first 12 minutes sparked the Devils (7-9, 4-3) to a 56-28 win over rival Battle Mountain (0-16, 0-7) in Eagle-Vail.

“We came out and we wanted to play our game,” Eagle Valley coach Ken Reagan said. “It was important for us to get the easy shots. It was a good start, that’s what we were looking for.”

Brenda Zapata and Emily Kingston did a majority of the damage. Zapata scored the first three baskets of the contest to stake Eagle Valley to an early 6-0 lead. Kingston followed Zapata’s outburst with one of her own.

At the end of the first quarter, the Devils already held a 17-2 advantage.

“We wanted to get it done,” Kingston said. “We were all pumped up and excited. We were looking forward to this game.”

About the only thing that didn’t go well for Eagle Valley out of the gates was Kacey Bair’s foul trouble. Bair didn’t need to worry because her sister, Jamie, picked up the slack.

Jamie Bair played strong inside all night. She led the Devils with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

“Jamie’s been coming on,” Reagan said. “She’s been on varsity since she was a freshman. She’s really maturing and learning how to score. She’s doing an awesome job.”

Battle Mountain finally notched its first field goal of the game on Kenia Olivas jumper with 4:18 left in the second quarter. Olivas added a conventional three-point play a minute later to make it 26-7 in Eagle Valley’s favor.

After halftime, Eagle Valley continued to add to its lead. A Kingston layup pushed the advantage to 34-12. In the fourth quarter, Yvette Parra drilled a long two for a 43-22 edge. The Devils finished off the Huskies with 21 points in the period.

“It feels great (to get the win),” Jamie Bair said. “We haven’t won here in two years. We came out and we were hoping to do well, and we did.”

Zapata and Kingston both scored 10 points for the Devils. Sierra Pickslay added nine. Battle Mountain was led by Adriana Morken’s 12 points.

The Huskies travel to Moffat County on Friday. Eagle Valley is at Glenwood Springs on Tuesday.

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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