Devils boys host Hotchkiss in district opener; Girls take on Aspen |

Devils boys host Hotchkiss in district opener; Girls take on Aspen

Nate Peterson

The Eagle Valley boys basketball team has already beaten Hotchkiss twice this season, but that doesn’t mean their district opening matchup against the Bulldogs tonight at 7:30 p.m. is a guaranteed win.

“The way we’re looking at it is it’s a new season,” Devils’ coach Phil Cain said. “Each team is 0-0 now. We’ve beaten them twice, the last time by 19 at home, but they are a scrappy group of guys and they shoot the 3-pointer real well.”

Cain said the key for the Devils tonight will be to deny the Bulldogs open looks from the perimeter and to dictate on offense. He also said his squad enters the postseason with a healthy roster, aside from forward Sean Bartlett who is nursing a sore back but will still start tonight.

Last year, as the fifth seed in the district tournament, the Devils upset fourth-seeded Hotchkiss on its home floor, but then lost to eventual district champion Cedaredge.

The loss to the Bruins gave the Devils a fourth-place finish in the 3A Slope and a tough first-round matchup in the 32-team 3A state tournament. The Devils were saddled with the 31st seed and closed out their season the next week with a first-round loss to No. 2 seed Platte Valley.

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If the Devils (12-2 in 3A Slope play) are to draw a better seed heading into the state tourney this year, they know that it all starts with a win over the Bulldogs tonight.

“We have to make sure that we can cut down on wide open 3-point shots,” Cain said. “With (Michael) Smith and (Curt) Morgan – both of those guys really do a good job if they’re left open. We need to play tough defense so that they don’t get any open looks.”

Lady Devils host Aspen

At stake for the Lady Devils tonight at 6 p.m. in their district showdown at home against Aspen is an automatic state berth. If the Lady Devils win, they’re in. If they lose, they will have to continue to fight for a spot among the five teams from the 3A Slope who will advance from this weekend’s district tournament at Rifle.

“If we win we finish no lower than the fourth seed,” Lady Devils coach Mike Vidakovich said. “It will also give us a shot to play the No. 1 seed, which would be Basalt.”

Vidakovich said that his team was loose in practice Monday night and is focused solely on the task of beating the Skiers, who it split with in its two regular season meetings. The Devils knocked off Aspen in overtime at home on Jan. 16, but then lost to the Skiers at Aspen on Feb. 8.

“The kids really had a good practice tonight,” Vidakovich said Monday evening. “They really had some positive waves about them. By no means are we looking past Aspen. Our whole focus was on them and some of the things they will try to do offensively to us.”

The keys for Eagle Valley tonight will be to stop the Skiers’ offensive workhorse, center Liz Floyd in the middle as well as limit shifty guard Carly McGill’s open looks. McGill had 16 points in the Skiers’ last home win.

“I think the key for us is we need an up-tempo game,” said Vidakovich, whose team finished with a 7-7 league mark in the regular season. “Aspen is a team that is not really long on depth. We’re going to try and push the tempo on every single possession.”

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