Castillo lifts Devils to win
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” It is the dream of anyone who has ever played basketball ” just seconds are left, the ball’s in your hands and it’s up to you.
Eagle Valley’s Cesar Castillo lived the dream Tuesday night, taking an inbound pass from teammate Roberto Pantoja with three seconds left. With his team down, 55-54, at Battle Mountain, the point guard drained the 3 from the corner at the buzzer, giving the Devils a 57-55 win, sending his teammates into ecstasy and the Huskies into despair.
Eagle Valley (3-9 overall and 2-3 in 4A Slope) got its last chance, and the play Devils coach Pat Gabriel called worked to perfection ” Pantoja to Castillo in the corner.
“I hesitated a little bit on the inbound, but that was the play,” Castillo said. “Roberto gave me the perfect pass. Once it left my fingertips, I knew it was going in. It left my finger tips, and I said, ‘All right.'”
“I told them to make it and they’re really coachable kids,” Gabriel joked.
Battle Mountain thought it had won the game in improbable style a few moments earlier. With 12 seconds left, Pantoja fouled the Huskies’ Ashlin Romero. The Battle Mountain senior coolly sank both free throws for a 55-54 Huskies’ lead.
Eagle Valley got a shot off, but it was errant and Battle Mountain’s Victor Rios fell on the ball in the paint and time expired. The referees, however, called Rios for traveling and put 3 seconds back on the clock, giving Eagle Valley one last gasp.
After the game, Tronsrue said that he disagreed with the call, saying that Rios wasn’t moving and that he heard the buzzer, but concluded his thoughts on the subject by saying, “To me, they made the call. Calls are made like that every night.”
What concerned Tronsrue more was that he felt his team had Eagle Valley down for the count and should have been able to put the Devils away long before Castillo’s heroics.
“I didn’t want to dwell the last-second shot,” said Tronsrue, whose team fell to 3-11 and 1-4. “I wanted to focus on that we had 13-point lead with three (minutes) or so to go in the third quarter. Why play for 20 minutes and not play the last 12? That’s where we really lost the ball game. We really let it slip away.”
Tale of two halves
Actually, Battle Mountain led by 15 at 31-16 after a Parker Lathrop’s 3-pointer with 1:33 to go in the half, but Tronsrue’s point is well-taken. While Battle Mountain’s made a few strides this season, the theme has been an inability to play well for an entire game.
But both teams had to battle their fair share of adversity. Eagle Valley had 15 first-half turnovers, a trend which seemed to afflict the Huskies in the second. Eagle Valley also had major foul trouble.
After having rallied for a 44-39 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Devils lost their big men. With 7:04 left, Eagle Valley’s Scott House committed a charge against Rios for his fourth foul. House also got a technical, which was his fifth and final foul when Battle Mountain’s Kyle Wooley took a mysterious dive after the first whistle.
With 5:29 left, Devils junior Zach Ramsey was done with his fifth foul and Battle Mountain was able to penetrate the paint, that is if Huskies could get down the court without committing a turnover. On five straight trips down the floor with Eagle Valley leading by two possessions, the Huskies turned the ball over.
Despite all this, Battle Mountain still took the lead twice in the final 90 seconds before Castillo administered the coup de grace.
Castillo led all scorers with 25 points. Romero topped the Huskies with 19, while Woolley had 16.
Eagle Valley is at Steamboat Springs Friday, while Battle Mountain travels to Craig to face Moffat County.
Lady Huskies edge Devils
At the end of every practice, Battle Mountain girls basketball coach Andrew Schmid conducts a free-throw shooting drill.
If the Battle Mountain player misses shots, the Huskies have to run up and down the court twice. Make them both? No running.
“It’s a little incentive in practice,” Schmid said.
Those nerve-wracking sessions bore fruit Tuesday as Battle Mountain eked by Eagle Valley Tuesday night, 43-38.
Battle Mountain didn’t have a field goal for the final 5:12 of the game, but Battle Mountain was 10-for-13 from the charity stripe during this time, while Eagle Valley was just 2-for-5.
“Usually, during practice, I crack under the pressure. We run,” said Megan Houghton, who was a perfect 4-for-4. “I just knew I had to do it. My teammates came up to me and said I have to do this. They made little jokes about what they would do if I made them. I just knew I had to keep my composure.”
The reason for the differential in free throws was Eagle Valley’s full-court press, which served a double-edged sword in the game. The pressure enabled the Devils to rally from a 6-0 deficit at the end of the first quarter and as much as a 22-12 margin near the end of the first half. But the fouls piled up and the Huskies kept going to the line.
“The equation for (Battle Mountain) is that you’re supposed to press them, and we did,” said Devils coach Ken Reagan, who team dropped to 1-4 and 2-10.
“Sometimes, we were out of control, off-balance and you’re fouling like crazy. I think a lot of it was that the game was going too fast than what we were ready for. That’s where the fouls come from.”
And the Huskies, behind 13 points from Emily LyBarger and 11 from Adriana Morken, used that not only to pick up their first Slope win of the season, but to turn the tide after lopsided losses against Glenwood Springs and Rifle last weekend.
“Having played the past weekend, it was rough, but this shows how much heart we had after losing last weekend like that,” LyBarger said. “It makes us more confident.”
Baker led all scorers with 18 points.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.