Devils bounce back and win at Steamboat in OT
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — That was a surprise, a really good surprise.
Eagle Valley boys basketball bounced back in dramatic fashion after a tough overtime loss to Battle Mountain on Thursday with some overtime magic of its own in a victory at Steamboat Springs, 44-39, on Saturday.
“They very easily could have come up here with the long bus ride and Christmas break coming and said, ‘We’ll get them the next go-round,’” Devils coach Chris Walls said. “They stuck together and executed the game plan.”
And that made for a very happy ride back on Colorado 131. (Seriously, how sick are the Devils of that trip after the Steamboat Shoot Out last weekend?)
That is Eagle Valley’s first win up north against the Sailors since 2013, which was also the last time the Devils made the 4A playoffs. While playoff talk in December may be a little premature, there’s no doubting Saturday’s win is a big one.
When one plays the Sailors, you get a lot of defense, a slow tempo and accurate 3-point shooting. To combat the last item, the Devils played a 3-2 zone high to try to break down the screens that the Sailors try to set for shooting guard Ethan Riniker.
He did get a 3 late to send the game into overtime, but Eagle Valley held him below his season average.
In overtime, the Devils hit their free throws — a must — as Jesus Loera sank two and Dawson Keller did the same. Jimmy Murphy hit a freebie and also had a big bucket and Eagle Valley moved to 1-1 in the 4A Slope and 3-5 overall.
Loera led the Devils with 12 points, while Murphy had 11. Arturo Loera had a good bounce-back game with nine points and Garrett Martin had eight as the Devils had balanced scoring.
“I feel like we’re coming together,” Walls said. “We’re starting to understand how to play together and how to play within ourselves individually and as a team.”
Devils ladies 2-0
OK, it wasn’t as dramatic — and that’s a good thing, but Eagle Valley girls basketball took care of business Saturday up in the Springs and is 2-0 in the 4A Slope.
Not that anyone would be scoreboard watching — of course, not — but there are only two teams in the league at 2-0, defending champion Palisade and the Devils.
“It’s a big confidence builder,” Devils coach Sam Bartlett said. “We were definitely looking for some momentum going into the break and we got that.”
Eagle Valley (5-3 overall) started slow, missing some opportunities and leading only 20-17 at the half.
“In the second half, our press was more effective and some of the easy shots started to fall,” Bartlett said.
Both Eagle Valley teams are done for the holidays and return to action on Jan. 8 at Summit County.
Huskies fall at Delta
Battle Mountain basketball had a rough go of it in Delta on Saturday.
The boys lost, 52-50, in the last minute. Mile Joersz had 12 points, while both Jack Skidmore and Abdoulaye Dath had nine.
The girls lost to the Panthers, 58-38. That final is bit misleading as the Huskies were in it until the fourth quarter.
Battle Mountain’s teams start up against Glenwood Springs on Jan. 8.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.